Freezing Water Pipes

How to Prevent the Water Lines in Your House from Freezing

There are many preventive measures that help keep your water lines from freezing. If the weather stays below freezing for long periods and you are worried about your water lines freezing you could try some of these old but tried and true remedies:

  • Go to the Sink or Tub that is located at the end of your water line. Open it just enough to allow it to drip. When water is moving even just a little it's far less likely to freeze.
  • If your water lines are located in an outside wall, open the cabinet doors under the sink. This will allow warm air in to help condition the areas in and behind your cabinets.
  • Water Lines under the house in a crawl space can be insulated. Any pipe insulation on your water lines will help prevent the cold air from freezing the water lines. The installation of water pipe insulation in a crawl space does not require permits or inspections. However in order for the Water Pipe Insulation to work properly it needs to be installed per the Manufacturer's Instructions.
  • If you choose to, you could have a Plumber look at your house and give advice. If you call a Plumber I recommend that you call a North Carolina Licensed Plumber Contractor.

These suggestions are from a Senior Plumbing Inspector in the Inspections Division.

Current Plumbing Code Minimum Requirements

The current North Carolina Plumbing Code's minimum requirements for freeze protection of water lines reads as follows:

  • 305.6 Freezing. The top of water pipes, installed below grade outside the building, shall be below the frost line or a minimum of 12 inches (305 millimeter) below finished grade, whichever is greater. Water pipes installed in a wall exposed to the exterior shall be located on the heated side of the wall insulation.Water piping installed in an unconditioned attic or unconditioned utility room shall be insulated with an insulation having a minimum R factor of 6.5 determined at 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius).

Note: These provisions are minimum requirements which have been found suitable for normal weather conditions. Abnormally low temperatures for extended periods may require additional provisions to prevent freezing.

The requirements above do not cover water lines installed in a crawl space.