In cold weather pipes can freeze for multiple reasons: quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, or having the thermostat set too low. Plastic and copper pipes can burst when they freeze, and recovering from this is not as simple as calling a plumber. A crack in a pipe can cause flooding, structural damage and the potential for mold. Read on for tips on how to prevent pipes from freezing even in the coldest months of the year. And, what to do if your pipes do freeze...
Tips to Prevent Freezing Pipes
During the warmer months you can insulate the pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes are. You can also use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to wrap pipes. Any exposed pipes are susceptible to freezing. Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where the pipes are located. Look for leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. Before winter hits, disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
Even when you take the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep the pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall. Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You may be in the habit of turning down the heat when you go to bed, but you should leave it set to the same temp as the day, the temperature usually drops more overnight and could catch you off guard and harm your pipes.
If Your Pipes Do Freeze
Don’t panic. Just because the pipes are frozen doesn’t mean they have already burst. Turn on your faucets. If nothing comes out, leave them turned on and call a plumber. Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working towards the coldest section of the pipe. If the pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your home knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Being prepared is the best way to prevent pipes from freezing and from making costly mistakes if they do freeze. Share this post with friends and family so that they can be prepared during these cold months, too!