How to Keep Toilet Pipes from Freezing [4 Methods to Stop Ice Blockages]

In order to keep your toilet pipes from freezing, secure heat cables along your pipes. These heat cables can then be plugged into an outlet, keeping the pipes warm and preventing ice blockages from occurring. In order to retain more heat, it’s useful to insulate water pipes as well. Another way to keep toilet pipes from freezing is to turn up the heat in your home or heat your bathroom with a space heater. The radiant heat will keep pipes from freezing. If you are planning on leaving your home for several days during cold weather, winterize your toilet with a plumber’s antifreeze.

How to keep toilet pipes from freezing

Why Do Only Some Toilet Pipes Freeze?

Of course, frigid weather is the cause of frozen pipes, but have you ever wondered why some homeowners battle with frozen pipes while others don’t? The answer lies in where the pipes are located and how they’re protected.

  • Pipes in well-insulated walls resist freezing.
  • Pipes in walls or attics with poor insulation are prone to freezing.
  • Pipes that run through a crawlspace are more likely to freeze.

In standard-built homes, plumbing lines run through the walls. If the exterior walls of the home are well insulated, then the heat from the home will remain in the walls, keeping the pipes ice-free. If the insulation in the walls is too thin, pipes will freeze in cold weather. In many cases, homes are constructed with pipes running through the attic or crawlspace. If these areas are not insulated, or if the pipes are not heated, then there is a greater danger of frozen pipes.

4 Ways to Prevent Toilet Pipes from Freezing

If you’ve battled frozen toilet pipes, then you know the damage frozen pipes can cause. In the worst cases, pipes can leak or burst, causing flooding or water damage. In the best case, a frozen pipe won’t deliver water to your toilet, making it so the tank doesn’t fill with water necessary for flushing. No matter what you’ve dealt with in the past, here are the best techniques to keep your toilet pipes ice-free.

Warm Your Pipes with Heating Cables

If you can access your water pipe, protect it with a self-regulating heating cable designed for water pipes. When plugged into an outlet, this cable will automatically generate safe heat, keeping pipes warm and preventing ice blockages. Simply run the cable along the pipe and tape it into place per the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • This heat cable can be run along your water pipes to keep them from freezing.
  • This method works well for accessible pipes in attics and crawlspaces.
  • Unfortunately, if pipes in your walls freeze, it’s impossible to warm them with cables without tearing open your walls to access the pipes.

If the water pipes that run to your toilet are in the attic or crawlspace, they may be more likely to freeze. However, pipes in these locations are easier to protect than in-wall pipes. Climbing into the attic or under your house to install heat cables is a lot easier than knocking a hole in your wall to get to frozen pipes.

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Insulate Your Pipes

This method goes hand-in-hand with heating cables. Help your pipes retain heat from your cables by wrapping them in pipe insulation. This helps prevent heat from escaping, greatly reducing the risk of frozen pipes.

  • Insulate heated pipes to reduce the chance of frozen pipes and reduce energy costs.
  • This pipe insulation can be wrapped around pipes of any size.
  • Heating and insulating your pipes is a lot more cost-efficient than heating an entire attic or crawlspace.

The combined tactic of heating and insulating water pipes prevents burst pipes and saves money. By heating and insulating only the water pipes, you don’t have to worry about the overall temperature of the attic or crawlspace where the pipes are located. Rather than heating an entire room, you’re just keeping the essential pipes warm so your toilet pipes won’t freeze.

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03/01/2024 03:46 am GMT

Heat Your Bathroom

You can prevent toilet pipes from freezing by increasing the heat in your home. However, raising the temperature in your entire home during winter can be expensive. So, to keep your toilet pipes from freezing, consider warming up your bathroom with a space heater. Higher temperatures in the bathroom will warm the walls, which keeps the pipes inside your walls free of ice.

  • Raising the temperature in your home keeps pipes in your walls and attic warmer, preventing freezes.
  • Use a space heater to heat your bathroom and protect toilet pipes from ice.

Keeping your home well above freezing in winter is key to preventing frozen pipes. This tip is simple and works well for in-wall pipes, making it a great quick fix for frozen toilet pipes. To help track the perfect temperature for your home, use the water sensors from Vivint’s suite of smart products. They will notify you instantly if the temperature in your home drops too low, so you know to turn on the heat. You can even sync it with the Vivint Smart Thermostat to heat your house automatically. This will help avoid frozen toilet pipes in the first place.

Vivint smart water sensor is placed next to a toilet to help prevent the toilet pipes from freezing during the cold winter.
Detect Water in Places it Shouldn't Be
Vivint Water Sensors | Safety Alarms
  • Preventing flooding with water leak detection.
  • Identify leaks and standing water before major flooding occurs.
  • Instantly notifies you if water is detected in an area it shouldn't be.
  • Built-in temperature control to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
*The editors of Pepper's Home & Garden own a Vivint Smart Security System and highly recommend the company and their products.
A Cost-Efficient, Smart Thermostat
Vivint Smart Thermostat | Home Security & Safety
  • A thermostat that combines both comfort and savings.
  • Smart enough to know when to turn the temperature up, down, and off.
  • Control the temperature of your home from anywhere.
  • Syncs with Vivint Water Sensors to heat your home and protect pipes during freezing weather.
*The editors of Pepper's Home & Garden own a Vivint Smart Security System and highly recommend the company and their products.

Winterize Your Toilet with Plumber’s Antifreeze

If you plan on leaving your home for a few days during cold weather, it’s a good idea to winterize your toilet in order to prevent the pipes from freezing. In order to do this, first purchase specialized plumber’s antifreeze. Do not substitute antifreeze you would use in your car, as this can cause damage to your plumbing. Then, follow these steps:

  • Use this plumber’s antifreeze to winterize your toilet before leaving home for an extended period.
  • Turn off the water supply to your toilet.
  • Remove the lid to your toilet tank.
  • Flush the toilet, making sure as much water as possible is drained out of the toilet tank.
  • Pour the jug of antifreeze into the toilet tank.
  • Flush the toilet again, to flush antifreeze through the toilet bowl and trap.

This process will fill the toilet with antifreeze. With this liquid in the system, you can leave the toilet for extended periods in freezing temperatures. The antifreeze will prevent the water in the toilet tank, bowl, and trap from freezing. Without winterizing, frozen water in your toilet could crack the toilet itself, creating the need for a new toilet. Just remember, once you use your toilet again and flush, the antifreeze will be carried out of the system. So, this method only works if the toilet will remain unused for an extended period of time.

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Can You Flush Your Toilet if Pipes are Frozen?

In most cases, the toilet pipe that freezes is the water supply that brings new water to the toilet for flushing. If this line is frozen, the toilet tank won’t fill, meaning the toilet won’t flush. If this occurs, you can flush the toilet manually by pouring water directly into the tank, then flushing.

  • Most often, the water supply line is the frozen pipe.
  • If the water supply is frozen, the tank won’t fill between flushes. If you want to flush your toilet, you’ll have to fill the tank with water from a bucket or other source.
  • If the water in the toilet bowl and/or trap is frozen, the toilet won’t flush.

In the rare cases where the water inside the toilet bowl itself freezes, you won’t be able to flush your toilet. The ice will prevent waste and water from passing into the sewer pipes. However, this is rare in houses that are kept above freezing temperatures. Most often, sewer pipes do not freeze.

What Prevents Toilet Pipes from Freezing?

The following methods are the most effective at keeping toilet pipes from freezing:

  • Heat water supply pipes with electric heating cables.
  • Wrap heated water pipes with insulation.
  • Heat your home to a higher temperature to keep in-wall pipes warm.
  • Put a space heater in your bathroom to heat the room and prevent ice formation in toilet pipes.
  • Winterize your toilet with a plumber’s antifreeze to prevent water in the bowl from freezing.

These techniques are effective at keeping pipes and toilets ice-free throughout the winter. If you’ve dealt with frozen pipes before, it’s well worth the effort to heat and insulate your water pipes. This will prevent frozen and burst pipes.

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