How to prevent frozen pipes?


My daughter and son in law have a basement and a 1st 2nd and 3rd floor house. It was an old house that was renovated. Apparently the water pipes run up along one side of the house but were not insulated sufficiently so the 2nd and red floor pipes freeze in the harsh winters (Northeast). Any suggestions what they could do besides ripping the wall off to get to the pipes and insulating them better.

  8 answers
  • How long ago did they buy the house? What did the inspection report reveal, if anything?

    • See 1 previous
    • Hence they can go after the sellers and their realtor. I would hire a construction defect attorney and go after them. Olivia provided some excellent information too. In my area, you can call the permit office and they will come out and inspect for free and provide suggestions on how to remedy. You do need to make yourself available, but free advice and bringing the house to code is worth it. Here is how to hire contractors and various tradespeople.

      Congratulations to the happy couple on their new home. This is all fixable and it sounds like an awesome house! 3 stories and a basement, wow! Never need a gym membership going up and down all those stairs. Good luck and keep us posted.

  • Kelli L. Milligan Kelli L. Milligan on Jan 22, 2019

    That's about all you can do. But it will be worth it.

  • Oliva Oliva on Jan 22, 2019

    Hi, Chris,

    If you live in the Northeast, you'll recognize that If their house was renovated (as in changing out plaster to drywall), they'll most likely have to rip down the drywall and add insulation. Keep in mind that given the probability of stick construction of that time, deeper insulation to meet today's recommendations will not be possible.

    Hopefully, the house is not "brick on tile" construction, which tended to have no insulation, as coal heat was cheap. Even if their home had been built in the 1950's, homes generally had little more than a minimal layer of rockwool, because the prevailing attitude was "gas forced air heat is cheap".

    As illogical as it sounds, it was not unusual for plumbing pipes in kitchens, bath and basement laundry areas to have pipes located on the outside wall, even when some sections of the foundation were below ground level. It was typical to have to leave faucets at a trickle during cold weather, and utilize a bathroom wall mounted heater.

    Hopefully, the attic floor was well insulated during renovations, and all air leaks were sealed in that space.

  • Chris Chris on Jan 22, 2019

    Thank you for your response. I will tell them to get the attic checked to see if there are any leaks. I dont know if in their area energy inspections are done, but maybe with an expert to look into it maybe they would get to the root cause and have it fixed.

  • William William on Jan 23, 2019

    They don't need to tear the walls out totally. If they can locate where the pipes are all they need is to cut the drywall by the pipes. Use foam pipe insulation or wrap them with fiberglass pipe insulation. Then just patch what was cut out. There many new products that can see through walls. Walabot is one. Technology is great.

  • Chris Chris on Jan 23, 2019

    Thank you. This is helpful. Will pass this info on to them.

  • Dena Craghead Dena Craghead on Dec 29, 2020

    I think running water works better than anything. I turn on faucets to a low drip and so water is running through the pipes all the time.

  • Kris Kris on Jan 01, 2021

    Used to do this...but most people in this world pay to have what we would consider brown water delivered, and never have enough.

    Exist efficiently...