Protect Water Lines & Pipes in Cold Weather

Written by Theresa Rose on December 14, 2020

Although December and November have been fairly mild so far, colder weather is for sure on its way. In the meantime, Iowans should make sure the water supply to their house and livestock buildings is well protected from freezing. The three most common approaches, are adding heat with a heating device, insulating to conserve heat and adding heat by bringing in warm water. The most basic advice is to empty all water lines that can be emptied, including hoses, sprinkler lines and pasture water lines. Insulation can be added to protect outside walls, and interior insulation can be removed, to allow heat from a heated building to reach the pipes. In places that are unheated, options include using a small electric heater or heat lamp, or heat tape. For livestock water tanks, trough, tank and bucket heaters can be installed where electricity is available, for $20-$50 per unit. If electricity is not available, liquid propane gas stock tank heaters can be purchased for roughly $600. The operator needs to keep safety in mind, both for humans and for animals. Most store-bought heaters have safety features that are adequate when instructions are followed.