Keep Attic Pipes from Freezing (Complete Guide)

When winter comes and the weather turns incredibly cold, it is imperative to protect the pipes in your home from freezing temperatures. This includes the lines in your attic.

Letting your water lines freeze can lead to bursting pipes. Repairs for this problem are often very expensive, so prevention is key.

You can follow several steps to keep your attic pipes from freezing, such as insulating exposed attic pipes, installing heat tape, and installing Pex piping.

By reading this article, you will learn why keeping attic pipes from freezing is something no homeowner should overlook and how to go about it.

freezing pipes

Why Keep Attic Pipes from Freezing?

Frozen pipes seem like they shouldn’t be that much cause for alarm. So what if the water freezes in them? Won’t it just sit there until you melt it? Unfortunately, no.

When pipes and the water in them freeze, the water expands. This expansion can put pipes at risk of suddenly bursting, causing loads of water damage. 

Keeping your pipes from freezing will help you avoid expensive repairs.

Why Do Attic Pipes Freeze?

Frozen pipes are a common concern in areas with extreme cold spells, especially in attics. Some homes experience this problem more routinely in a given period of time than others. 

Homes constructed over a concrete slab usually run water pipes through the attic and fail to insulate them.

Even when a house is adequately heated, the temperature in the attic can be very low and lead to frozen pipes. This does not always result in burst pipes, but it can. 

Once the weather gets warmer, hundreds of gallons of water can escape through the cracks, leading to serious water damage, not just in the attic but the entire house.

The cost of frozen water lines is often in the thousands, which will seriously hurt your pocket if insurance does not cover the damage. 

Even if insurance can be counted on for this, dealing with insurance procedures takes time and can be very frustrating, so it is best to avoid this by keeping your attic pipes from freezing.

How to Keep Attic Pipes from Freezing

attic pipes freezing

As you can see, keeping your attic pipes from freezing is a good idea to avoid unnecessary damage and expenses. But what exactly can you do to accomplish this? 

Steps you can take to prevent pipes in your attic from freezing include:

  • Insulating exposed attic pipes.
  • Installing heat tape.
  • Installing Pex piping.
  • Insulating the space under your roof.
  • Letting your taps drip.

Let’s look at all of these steps in more detail.

Insulate Exposed Attic Pipes

Insulating your attic pipes will keep them from freezing during the coldest months. You might have some extra batts of fiberglass insulation lying around and simply put them on top of the pipes. But that is not the best way to go about this.

You will have to buy foam pipe insulation and install it on exposed attic pipes. This type of insulation is intended explicitly for pipes and is produced as sleeves that wrap around pipes to ensure they do not freeze. 

When dealing with unusual sections of pipe, you can cut foam pipe insulation so that it fits perfectly. Make sure you insulate every section of exposed attic pipes in this way.

Install Heat Tape

Another option to keep your attic pipes from freezing is to install heat tape. 

This special type of tape features heat controlled by a thermostat. The heating element in heat tape activates at a predetermined temperature to protect pipes from freezing.

While heat tape is highly effective at keeping pipes from freezing, it is not cheap, primarily since it uses electricity. Heat tape uses about 5 watts of electricity per foot of tape, so the cost can be prohibitive if you need to use a lot. 

Another expense here is having to pay a professional electrician or plumber to install heat tape. You should not do this yourself because of safety concerns.

Install Pex Piping

If your attic pipes have been a constant pain for you because of cold water and hot water freezing, you can choose to have them replaced with Pex Piping. 

These types of pipes are made with polyethylene, which is more resistant to freezing than the materials in standard pipes. Pex piping is designed to be flexible so that it expands when water freezes inside them.

However, Pex piping can still burst during icy weather conditions. Plus, the cost of having your attic pipes replaced with Pex piping can run into hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars, depending on how much piping has to be replaced.

Add Extra Insulation Under your Roof

Since your attic can affect the temperature in your entire house and end up freezing other pipes, insulating the area under your roof is a good idea. Poor insulation allows heat to escape, raising your energy bills and the risk of water supply pipes bursting.

The additional insulation under your roof will keep heat from getting out of the attic, keeping your pipes warm enough to carry liquid water. Doing this will also bring down your heating costs, so it often ends up paying for itself in the end.

roof insulation

The most common insulation used in homes is fiberglass, but this is not the best option here. Cellulose insulation holds up against cold temperatures much better.

 Remember to wear long sleeves, goggles, and gloves when handling insulation because it is a hazardous material.

Let Your Taps Drip

Letting your taps drip might seem like it will not help with freezing pipes, but it really can. 

Running water resists freezing much more effectively than still water. This tip is best for when nighttime in your area is a lot colder than daytime.

Of course, letting your pipes drip every single night is not something you should do continuously. This is just an emergency option to keep water supply lines from freezing while you get them insulated, or try one of the other tips. 

After all, dripping pipes do waste water.

dripping pipe do wasting water

Conclusion – Keeping Attic Pipes from Freezing

It’s best to protect your pipes from freezing long before winter arrives. Hopefully, these tips will help you ensure that you do not have to worry about frozen pipes, water damage, or the high costs of burst water pipes.