Frozen water pipes are inevitable in below freezing temperature if you haven't protected them against the elements. If they have not been properly protected it can result in busted pipes, water leaks, and damage to the structures in your home. These disasters can add up to costly repairs. You should do what you need to do to ensure that this doesn't occur. You do not need a plumber, you can do this yourself.

First, inspect your pipes when preparing them for the winter weather. Leaking pipes should be replaced. Carefully inspect along pipe joints as well. Water pipes that leak can destroy insulation and damage surrounding structures. Not only does it wreck havoc on the insulation, it can also damage or short out any heat tape that you are going to apply.

Next, you are going to apply heat tape unless you have already done this in the past. If that is the case, then you need to inspect it for any wear and tear. Check for any cracks that may have developed in the insulation. If so it will need to be replaced because unchecked heat tape that becomes damaged can actually melt plastic pipes. On the other hand, if you apply heat tape to your pipes for the first time, you will need to ensure that you have the proper tape for your particular pipes. For example, if your pipes are made of plastic you will need automatic thermostatically controlled heat tape. The non-automatic heat tape can damage plastic pipes that are covered with insulation.

When attaching heat tape to your pipes follow the manufactures instructions. You will want to start with the plug near the outlet and work your way out. You will need electrical tape to secure the heat tape to the pipe, and you will also need pipe insulation to cover up your handy work when you are done. Run the heat tape along the pipe, or swirl it around the pipe without overlapping to avoid a fire hazard. This should run the entire length of the pipe and down to the frost level below the ground. You should make sure that shutoff valves are protected as well as interior pipes that run along the sides of outer walls. You should plug your heat tape directly into a GFCI outlet. Do not use an extension cord.

To protect your pipes on the interior of your home where you may have a bad draft, you can leave water dripping to allow for an escape if water freezes or expands, and this also keeps a flow going which doesn't create a freeze situation. You can also open cabinet doors underneath sinks to allow heat from the homes interior to keep with pipes warm in drafty areas.

Doing these things will give you a better chance at protecting your pipes during the winter. Power outages can occur and heat tape can become damaged, but if you are proactive you can be confident that the water will keep flowing.