During the cold season, an issue of concern for most homeowners is frozen pipes. The freezing temperatures can result in severe problems inside your house. Once the temperature drops, it causes the water in your pipes to freeze, possibly leading to a burst pipe. A ruptured pipe is a serious plumbing emergency that can cause significant flooding and water damage, as well as landing the homeowner with sky-high water and repair bills.
How Do Pipes Freeze?
Once the temperature drops, water starts to solidify, and pipes are prone to freezing. When a pipe freezes, it is more than just an inconvenience, but a risk for rupture, which can result in severe leaks and flooding in your house.
When water solidifies, it expands. This expansion is the reason why you should be careful about what you store in a freezer. Particular objects such as soda cans might explode if left in a freezing environment for a long time. The principle also applies to water pipes. Once the water inside a pipe solidifies, it expands, putting the entire system at risk of rupturing.
Nevertheless, the pipe rarely ruptures where the ice forms. When segments in the pipes freeze, they force pressure “downstream” between the faucet and the blockage. The point where the pipe ruptures is usually in an area without any ice formation. If you are in doubt, whether you suspect a burst pipe or water damage, it might be best to call a professional from Doherty Plumbing Co., Inc.
How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing
It’s important to know that pipes in certain parts of your house might be more susceptible to freezing than others. The lines running through basements and attics tend not to encounter any form of heating and face the highest risk. Pipes that run through the exterior walls are also prone to freezing.
Let’s check out prevention tips to lower the likelihood of freezing pipes.
1: Proper Insulation
Ensuring that the pipes in your house have proper insulation is the best way to prevent them from freezing. Foam pipe insulation is a good option that’s easy to install. You can tackle the task by simply wrapping them around your pipes and making the foam secure with an adhesive.
It’s important to note that this type of insulation often includes a self-adhesive strip. Use it to seal the tube around the pipes. If not, you can secure it using duct tape. You might also want to add extra insulation to your house, especially in the basement or attic. If you find that your pipes solidify every year, your home may lack proper insulation.
2: Measures To Deal With Plummeting Temperatures
One way to prevent a significant drop in the temperature is to keep your cabinets beneath the sink open, especially if the sink is on an external wall. The reason for this is that it enables warm air from your house to reach the pipes. Exposure to a warm atmosphere will make them less likely to solidify.
Allow your faucet to drip, even in small amounts. Remember that moving water will not freeze. Ensuring that the water continues to drip will prevent the pipes in your house from freezing during the cold season.
3: Avoid Frozen Pipes While Away From Home
If you have plans to go away on vacation during the winter season, you should make sure that your pipes will not freeze up. You can do this by setting your thermostat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do not forget to turn off the main water supply before leaving. Make sure to fully empty the system by draining all the faucets and flushing the toilets.
Tips On Thawing Frozen Pipes
Despite preventive measures, your pipes can still solidify, especially after a cold spell. If you turn on your faucet and only a trace of water flows, or the pressure abruptly drops, it is a clear sign of a frozen pipe.
This is how you should respond:
- Turn off the main water valve.
- Warm the frozen pipes with a heating pad, hairdryer, or portable space heater.
- In case you cannot reach the pipe or it will not thaw, call a professional.
- As the pipe begins to melt, water will start flowing. Make sure that the faucet closest to the tap is turned on. Flowing water will help to melt the ice along the rest of the pipe.
- Inspect the other faucets in your house, since other pipes might be frozen too.
- Before switching on the water again, inspect the pipes for damage. If in doubt, call a plumber.
It’s relatively straightforward to prevent the pipes in your house from freezing. Easy steps, such as proper insulation and maintaining a warm temperature in the house, will help to ensure a steady water flow despite the cold season. Don’t forget; if in doubt, call a plumber!