As the outdoor temperatures plummet, the risk of the pipes freezing and bursting in your home drastically increases. According to studies, frozen and burst pipes are one of the most common and costly forms of property damage that occur during the winter months.
Those that have the highest risk of freezing and bursting are those that are in spaces that are not heated – such as the attic, the basement, the garage, and any other type of structure on the property, such as a storage shed.
In this guide, we will provide you with a few simple tips that will aid in keeping your pipes from freezing and bursting in your home this winter.
Protection from the Cold and Increased Warmth
To keep your pipes from freezing and bursting, you should start by ensuring that they are properly protected from the cold and that the warmth surrounding the pipes is increased. To succeed in these endeavors, you should follow the steps outlined below:
- Insulation – Pipes that are exposed are pipes that will be most prone to freezing and bursting. You should purchase pipe insulation and cover any pipes that are located within the attic, crawl space of the home, and basement. In addition to basic pipe insulation, you may also wrap the pipes using heat tape or specially-designed heat cables. You should use only those that include a thermostat control system.
- Seal – The next step to preventing pipes from freezing and bursting throughout the home is to seal up any cracks, holes, or other types of spaces where outdoor temperatures may make their way inside of the home. Examples include where pipes and other products run from outside to inside the home or vice versa. The area where water pipes enter or exit the home and the space around your dryer vent are examples of areas that need extra attention during the winter months. You may use waterproof caulking or waterproof patch kits.
- Water Sources – When working to prevent frozen and burst pipes, you should pay special attention to the water sources in and around the home. On the outside, water hoses should be disconnected, faucets should be drained, and the cut-off valves should be activated. You should also use faucet covers on those that are on the exterior of the home. On the inside of the home, allow a drip of both hot and cold water combined from one of the interior faucets of the home. This will ensure that water is successfully moving through the pipes of the home. If there is motion in the pipes, the water will not freeze and the pipes will not freeze and/or burst. This method is used to increase the “warmth” of the pipes pushing water in and out of the home.
- Consistent Temperature – Many find it expensive to heat their homes. This is especially true if you use more than wood to heat the home – and, sometimes, even using wood is expensive; that is, unless you have plenty of your own that you may cut and use. The average person will turn their thermostat down when they are not home in the winter months or at night. While this may save a few dollars, it increases the risk that the pipes will freeze and burst. Instead, you should pick a temperature, set the thermostat, and consistently heat your home at this temperature – whether you are there or not or in bed or not. In addition to keeping your pipes warm, this consistent form of operation will put less strain on your heating system.
- Hot Water Heater Protection – If you live in a very frigid climate, you should protect the hot water heater in your home. There are special types of insulation and insulative blankets that are designed to wrap around your hot water heater. By placing these on your system, the heater will not have to work as hard to keep the water hot. Additionally, it will not allow the interior water of the tank to freeze.
Keeping Your Home Warmer
The previous steps that we outlined placed a focus on keeping pipes protected from the cold and increasing the general level of warmth in those pipes. Now, we will outline steps that may be taken to keep the interior areas of your home warmer. By keeping these spaces warmer, the pipes will become warmer, by default:
- First, close off doors to areas that include pipes that may become frozen. This does help keep the room at a consistent temperature, but if the pipes should freeze and burst, it also helps limit the flood damage. These areas include the garage and the basement. In most instances, you may keep the attic shut off, too, as heat will naturally rise in the home to warm up this space.
- If there are areas in the home where pipes are located – such as in cabinets in the kitchen and the bathroom – those doors should be opened so that the warm interior air may circulate around the pipes. As a reminder, if any dangerous chemicals or other substances are in those cabinets, they should be placed out of the reach of children and out of access for pets.
- Never allow a heating system to run below the standard away temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thawing Pipes to Prevent Bursting
If you find that you are facing frozen pipes, there are steps that you may take in order to successfully thaw them before they burst. These include the following:
- Open the faucets in the home. As the frozen water melts, it will move through the pipes and out of the faucets. The combination of movement and air will help the pipes thaw out faster.
- You may use certain items to apply heat to a section of a frozen pipe. Examples include a towel that has been soaked in hot water, a hair dryer, a heating pace, and even a portable space heater (although, this is not advised).
- If you are unable to locate the area where the pipe has frozen or you are having a difficult time with the thawing process, you may contact a licensed plumber for more assistance. These individuals will be able to quickly and easily handle the issue that you are experiencing.
When possible, avoid using items that are dependent on electricity, extreme levels of heat, and/or open flames in an effort to thaw pipes. These may result in electrocution if the pipe bursts, extreme damage, fire, and injury. If you are unable to successfully thaw a frozen pipe, seek the professional assistance of a licensed and insured plumber for the task. Additionally, if you lack the knowledge, experience, and/or tools to complete your own plumbing projects, you should immediately contact a professional in the industry.
Contact Us Today
We here at Reynolds Plumbing have the skill, knowledge, and expertise to assist you with frozen and/or burst pipes. We have been servicing the Wayne County, Indiana area for approximately forty years. We specialize in both residential and commercial properties. Our plumbers are considered to be the best in the industry. Our specialties include customer service, high-quality work, and competitive pricing models.