Insulating/heat taping water pipes in preparation for winter

I live in a warm climate so I have limited experience with cold winters. Last winter at my mobile home park in Ohio there were multiple occasions of pipes freezing and bursting.

How do you prepare for the approach of winter in a cold climate?

My current plan is to have a letter sent out informing all of the residents that winter is approaching, and they have one week to properly insulate and heat tape their water lines. Then, at the end of that week hire a handyman or plumber to inspect each home and make sure it is properly protected. If any home is not properly protected, I’ll have the plumber do it for the resident and then bill that back to the resident.

Is this similar to how other park operators prepare for cold weather?

Some of our homes are heat-taped, some are not. We don’t have a lot of frozen pipe problems either way (Oklahoma). My only advice, if you do decide you need heat tape, is have it with an ‘on/off’ switch for the heat tape, or simply a plug to be unplugged. That way your residents can save money during the warmer months by not running electricity through the tape.



Being a park owner in the far north (Canada) sort of makes me experienced in this topic.

It’s always good to remind tenants, especially new ones, to turn on and test their heat tapes but that is the extent of your involvement if you do not own the home. If you do own the home, and rent it out, the responsibility to protect the line above ground is entirely yours and your cost.

Everything above ground is the responsibility of the home owner. If a line freezes tell them to call a plumber, it’s not your problem.

Many of the homes in our park are older and don’t have electrical outlets on the outside of the home that the heat tape can be plugged into. The only solutions I can think of are to a run an extension cord out a window/back door for the heat tape, or to drill a small hole under the house for the heat tape, which both seem like fairly unappealing options. Does anyone have any solutions on how to plug in heat tape when the house doesn’t have an exterior plug?

Are the homes owned by you.

If so then simply have an electrician drop a line straight down from the fuse panel and run it to a new outlet close to the heat tape. Install it close enough to plug the tape directly in. I would advise against using a extension cord on heat tape. It is a fire hazard.

If the new line is on it’s own fuse or breaker it is then easy to turn it off from inside the home in the spring and back on in the fall.

Thanks Greg,

Most of the homes are owned by the tenants.

I know that technically it is their problem, but last year I had about five lines freeze and burst, which ultimately is somewhat of a pain for me. I had one disabled lady who just didn’t fix it after her water went out and I ended up getting cited by human services, telling me that I needed to restore water to her trailer.

I don’t know what your state rules are but here water and sewer lines above ground, under the home, are the responsibility of the home owner. Everything on the house side of the water shut off valve, located at ground level, is owned by the home owner.

When they call me I tell them to call a plumber.

I think you were wrongly sited by human services.

As far as trying to solve their electrical issues are concerned be very carefull. If it results in a fire you could be held responsible. Send your tenants a notice reminding them to install tapes and inform them frozen water lines are their responsibility to repair.

You are taking too much personal responsibility for your tenants problems and need to step back before you get sucked into their lives. They are responsible to install and maintaining heat tape in freezing climate zones and if they do not too bad for them.

If I chose to repair tenants lines I charge them at least twice a lisenced plumbers rate to insure they do not bother me again.

Thanks Greg, I think you’re definitely correct, I’m probably being far to proactive and involved here.