Anti-Freeze Alternatives for Pipes

antifreezeA lot of people have freezing pipe problems and there are actually a lot of anti-freeze products in the market. A big concern though, is the constant dumping of the hazardous products down the pipes. It has made people think twice because of the environmental threat they pose.

It is quite understandable and even noble of people to care for the environment. Remember, we only have one Earth and if we don’t take care of it, we’ll have nowhere to go. That said, there are a number of non-toxic anti-freeze products in the market and they are designed for the home.

If you use anti-freeze, make sure to get one of the following types. RV antifreeze products are specifically designed to be used in the home. It is non-toxic, odorless and it is safe to use with steel, copper, brass and plastics. When used at full strength, RV antifreeze can provide freeze protection up to -50°F. You should be able to find RV antifreeze at any home improvement or hardware store easily.

If you prefer not to use anti-freeze, there are some alternatives that may help prevent your pipes from freezing. These alternatives are very simple and are also quite effective when it comes to helping pipes avoid freezing, are also very cost-effective and are easy to do.

First, you may decide to drain both the supply and drain pipes. It is usually a good idea to hook an air compressor up to the supply lines to blow out any residual water. You will also want to seal the drains to prevent any gases from working their way into your home. This includes plugging the toilet bowls and the like with a cloth rag.

Next, you can try wrapping heat tape around the supply lines and just drain the drain pipes and toilet bowls and/or tanks. Again, you will need to seal the drains. This method is considered a little risky if your home loses power for an extended period of time so it is best to weigh your options.

Lastly, you may choose to leave the heat on at a low temperature (e.g. 50°F – 55°F), to prevent the need for draining the pipes or using an anti-freeze. Obviously, if you plan on closing up your vacation home for the whole winter, this may not be such a good idea.

In my opinion, the best and safest method is by draining the pipes. You’re not using any heating for it which makes it practically safe to leave for the entire winter.

All of these alternative methods for protecting your vacation home’s plumbing pipes have their own little pros and cons. However, if you plan on leaving the vacation home closed up for the entire winter, then draining both the supply and drain lines make the best economic and environmental sense. Always weigh your options before deciding on anything too drastic. Sometimes we forget to check our options that we end up doing more harm than good. You just might end up wishing you used an anti-freeze this time.

2 Responses to Anti-Freeze Alternatives for Pipes
  1. 800 Plumbing
    December 1, 2009 | 12:43 pm

    This is a wise choice for homeowners that might leave a home sitting around during the winter months completely unused. Could save them a great deal of money in the long run.

  2. Vincent
    January 21, 2013 | 3:08 pm

    Great suggestions – good article!

    Beside insulating pipes from cold weather, or trying to use heat tape, a very effective way of protecting pipes from freezing is to introduce a circulating pump into the water system. By installing a circulation system, the water from the ‘hot’ side of the system gets sent to the ‘cold’ water line. This greatly reduces the possibility of water pipes freezing because the water temperature never reaches the critical freezing point.

    The best circulation system on the market that I’ve seen is available at It is the only circulating pump I’ve seen that doesn’t need electricity to run. It can be installed anywhere in the water system, and save hundreds if not thousands of dollars in home repairs if frozen pipes burst from water expansion.

    That’s my two cents; I hope it helps!

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