Winter can mean freezing temperatures and this can lead to frozen pipes. When water freezes in pipes it expands causing pipes to burst. Plumbing problems during the winter abound; even if you live in a warmer climate it can pose a problem at times. If you have had problems with frozen pipes in the past, those same pipes are obvious problem spots. Insulation alone won’t keep most pipes from freezing.
One tactic that may help to keep pipes from freezing is to keep a heat source near problem spots. One common problem areas are bathroom pipes enclosed in vanities or cabinets, leave the doors open during cold weather so the heat from the room can penetrate the enclosures. Another option is to buy pipe wraps that include electrical heat coils imbedded in them. This works well if you remember to plug them in when cold weather is approaching, but there is always the problem of having an interruption of power during a severe storm.
It takes more for running water to freeze. During severe cold weather you may want to keep a stream of water trickling out of faucets or spouts attached to vulnerable pipes. This wastes water, but may be preferable to a burst pipe.
If any of your pluming does freeze, try thawing it with an electrical hair dryer. For your safety, be sure the dryer is grounded and never hold the pipe while operating an electrical appliance. To keep the pipe from bursting it is important to turn off the valve leading to the pipe. It is unnecessary to turn of the water to the house, only the affected plumbing.
If at any point you are unsure of what to do to keep your pipes from freezing call a professional plumbing contractor for help. Preventing your pipes from bursting is a better option that mopping up water for hours or days.