Protect Your Pipes During a Freeze WarningBrian Simpson | Jan 22, 2016
Frozen pipes are one of the most common problems with homeowners during the wintertime. You have heard the weather report and freeze warnings are coming. Don’t be caught off guard by the warning. Protect your pipes.
Here are 5 tips to help prevent frozen pipes:
- The first priority before a freeze warning should be to make sure your pipes are insulated. Pipes that are located in areas that are exposed to the elements or not insulated well should be wrapped with foam insulation for protection. Simple pipe insulation is readily available and affordable at any home improvement store. Pay special attention to insulating pipes that are outside or along a wall that is not well insulated, especially pipes in attics, basements and crawl spaces. Pipes installed in kitchen cabinets can also be vulnerable because they often are not insulated well.
- During the freeze period, open a faucet to let it trickle. The problem with your pipes bursting during a cold spell is that stagnant water inside the pipe freezes. As the water freezes, it expands, putting pressure on your pipes and causing the pipe to crack or even burst. After the water thaws and you turn on the faucet, water leaks through the opening. Running water does not freeze as quickly as still water. So when you keep the water moving through all of your faucets at a trickle, it will prevent ice from forming inside the pipes.
- Repair any clogged drains. Clogs are a problem because they prevent water from moving and thus can be a source for stagnant water that can form ice and potentially burst your pipes. Use a drain cleaner or natural mixture of baking soda and hot water to help keep your drains flowing freely. And avoid putting anything down the drain that is hard to dissolve or can coagulate, such as fat, oil or grease. For more serious clogs, use a plunger or contact a plumber to clean your drains using a mechanical snake or jetter.
- Keep areas heated. Don’t close off unused areas of the house or turn the heat off if you go on vacation in winter. Although this is a good strategy to save energy, it can backfire terribly during a freeze warning. You need to use a very different strategy to keep your pipes warm so they don’t get frozen.
- Drain your pipes to remove any excess water. This can help if you go away on a business trip or vacation during very cold weather. Since it is the expansion of frozen water that breaks your pipes, there won’t be a potential problem if there is no water in them. To drain your pipes, shut the main water valve for the house off. Then run a faucet until you have drained all the water from your pipes.
If a problem with frozen pipes does occur, you might be able to thaw them by running lukewarm water through them or warming accessible pipes with a hairdryer or space heater. Take caution that you don’t put a space heater too close to cabinets, furniture, walls, or other items that can catch fire. And don’t leave space heaters unattended.
Although prevention is your best way to protect pipes during a freeze, damage to your pipes can still happen. There is nothing you can do once your pipes are cracked or burst other than calling your emergency plumber. High Priority Plumbing is available 24/7 to help with emergencies such as leaks from frozen pipes.