How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing
This winter may go down in weather history as one of the coldest winters ever. Along with the discomfort of the cold is the potential damage and inconvenience from frozen water pipes. Luckily, we have some professional tips to help prevent pipes from freezing.
Water pipes that are in unheated areas such as the attic, crawl space, basement, and outside are prone to freezing in temperatures below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). Water pipes located in a heated space can still freeze if the pipe is in the path of a stream of freezing air coming from a crack in a wall or the foundation.
Water expands when it freezes and the water inside a pipe will expand to the point that the pressure cracks the pipe. Freezing water can rupture any type of pipe, copper, plastic, or galvanized. An eighth inch crack in a pipe can spew 250 gallons of water a day. My family was out of town one weekend when a quarter inch icemaker line ruptured and caused over $60,000 in damages.
Of course, there’s no problem as long as the water stays frozen. The problems begin when the pipes begin to thaw and the water starts to drip and then spray through the crack.
So how do you prevent pipes from freezing? For very little money, you can save yourself the costly frustrations that come with frozen pipes.
How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing This Winter:
Insulate Your Pipes
Foam insulation sleeves designed to fit around water pipes are inexpensive and easy to install. Make sure you insulate well around 90 degree turns; you may have to use some duct tape to hold the insulation around the corners. An added energy saving benefit is that a cold pipe won’t suck out the heat from your hot water.
Frigid air streaming through a small opening can freeze a pipe. Seal all cracks or openings that cold air can penetrate with caulking or spray foam insulation. Vents under your home can be insulated with Styrofoam during Winter time to keep frigid air out from the crawlspace under your home. Any cracks or holes outside or in the foundation should be sealed with caulk. Attics can be insulated with sheets of fiberglass insulation to keep any cold air out.
Keep The Water Running
Because of the warmer and milder temperatures in the South, many houses are not built with insulated plumbing. If you can’t get your pipes insulated before temperatures fall 20 F or below, open the faucet and let the water drip. Running water is less likely to freeze.
Going On A Trip This Winter?
Remember to shut off your water and drain your pipes before you leave. After turning off your main water valve, open all of the faucets in your house until they empty. This way, there is no way for your pipes to freeze in your absence, and more importantly, no risk of flooding.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
If your pipes do freeze, here’s the best way to thaw them out. First, open up the faucet. Second, apply heat to the frozen pipe. A hair dryer works best. You can use a propane torch on copper or galvanized pipes, but if you do, keep the torch moving over the pipe so you don’t damage the pipe.
Familiarize yourself with where your home or apartment’s water shut off valve is located and be prepared to act quickly in case of a burst pipe.
Be proactive, protect your pipes from freezing and sleep well knowing you’ll have water in the morning.