How to Keep Pipes From Freezing in a Crawl Space

If your crawl space and pipes are not ready for freezing temperatures, crawling under your house through ice-cold water and mud to fix a burst water pipe could become a regular sport for you or your plumber.

Pipes in lower crawl spaces are particularly vulnerable to freezing. Each winter, frozen pipes often create costly repair bills for many homeowners, not to mention the inconvenience of being without water until the repairs are made. The best time to prepare is before winter strikes.

Inspect the crawl space. Block or other solid crawl-space walls usually have openings that allow frigid air to flow through. Choose plywood, tin or other solid materials to cover openings. Secure them with wooden or metal stakes driven into the ground in front of them. Caulk cracks around faucet openings and all basement windows.

Choose pipe insulation. Even 1/4 inch of newspaper wrapped around pipes provides some degree of insulation.

Insulate both hot and cold water pipes in the crawl space. Make sure no part of the pipe is left exposed. Use duct or other recommended tape to cover seams where insulation pieces join.

While inside the crawl space, check for areas where light is shining through. Caulk or cover these areas.

Things You Will Need

  • Plywood or tin
  • Metal or wooden stakes
  • Caulking
  • Pipe insulation
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Scissors
  • Box cutter or knife

Tips

  • Many insulation products, such as foam pipe sleeves and heat tape, sell out quickly when freezing temperatures are predicted--so shop well before that time.
  • If possible, have a helper who can hold a flashlight while you insulate pipes, or wear a hardhat with a light attached.
  • Knee pads are a good investment when crawling into lower crawl spaces.

Warnings

  • Watch out for spiders and snakes when working in dark crawl spaces.
  • Work cautiously around electrical wires that could run through crawl spaces.

About the Author

A journalist since 1985, Susan Walworth has written for both weekly and daily newspapers, including "The Eufaula Tribune" and "The Dothan Eagle." She has won numerous state press association awards for photography, news and feature writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Auburn University.