It’s that time of year again. As the temperatures dip ever lower, it is vital to begin to look at preparing your home for the winter months. Preparing your pipes for cold temperatures is important to prevent significant amounts of damage from occurring to your plumbing system, including the rest of your building. Water boasts one unique property aside from most other liquids. Rather than shrinking as it freezes, water expands. If the water inside of your pipes freezes, it can cause cracks and result in a burst pipe. This crack will spew water, which can lead to structural damage, flooding, and mold growth. These problems can occur with both plastic and copper pipes, which can result in incredibly expensive and even dangerous issues to your building. If you are ever concerned that your pipes may freeze, you should contact us at S & B Plumbing.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Prevention is the superior method to take when it comes to protecting your pipes during the winter. There are many steps that you can take to prevent frozen pipes despite cold temperatures. Insulation is one of the best ways to provide your pipes with extra protection from the cold. There are alternative things that can cause a pipe to freeze, even if the temperatures aren’t necessarily “cold enough”. For example, when cool air is allowed to infiltrate through leaks, it is possible that it will accelerate the cooling process and cause the water to freeze. Sealing these leaks can help to keep your pipes from freezing.
Ensure that you disconnect all of your exterior hoses and do your best to turn off the water that reaches outdoor pipes. Opening cabinet doors will allow hot air to heat the pipes, which will go a long way toward preventing freezing. It is important to keep your thermostat at a consistent temperature, even in the evenings. Even if you are warm in your bed, your pipes may still be able to freeze. Keep in mind the pipes that are most in danger of freezing are generally those that are located in unheated interior spaces, such as basements, garages, and attics. In particularly cold temperatures, you should allow faucets to drip as running water is less likely to freeze.
Best Pipe Insulation
There are many different available materials to help you insulate your pipes. Insulation is a great step to take to protect your pipes, as it is a cost-effective way to prevent the expensive costs of freezing. Conventional foam insulation consists of a pipe shaped piece of foam that contains a slit on the side. It can easily be fitted over the pipe, though you may want to consider taking steps to seal the slit shut to optimize its insulating properties. Self-sealing foam insulation works essentially the same way, but it contains tape on each side of the slit to allow for easier sealing processes.
Spray foam insulation is ideal for tight spaces, though it is generally applied by a professional. Heat tape can be easily applied to a pipe to create a more insulated surface. Fiberglass pipe covers are more rigid forms of insulation that are great for pipes that may reach high temperatures, as fiberglass is rather heat resistant.
How Cold Does it Have to be for Pipes to Freeze?
There are many factors involved in frozen pipes, so there is no specific number that results in frozen pipes. However, most experts agree that when temperatures hit around 20°F, it is time to become concerned about your pipes freezing. Although, keep in mind that pipes that are exposed to cold breezes can freeze in temperatures higher than this. It is important to pay careful attention to particularly vulnerable pipes. These pipes include uninsulated pipes, pipes located in the outer walls of the home, pipes in the attic, basement, garage, or crawl spaces of your building, and pipes that are made of copper or galvanized steel. If you’re unsure whether your pipes are adequately protected to prevent freezing, you should have them inspected by an experienced plumber.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
You can tell when a pipe has frozen, because you won’t have water when you turn the faucet on. You need to take care when attempting to thaw a frozen pipe. If the pipe has already burst, thawing it out will result in flooding to your home. If the pipe is burst, you should turn off the water at the main shutoff valve of your building to prevent a significant escalation of damage. You should consult a plumber to learn the best steps to take when it comes to fixing a frozen pipe in your building.
If the pipe hasn’t burst, you can take careful steps to thaw it. Turn on the faucet to allow water to flow through when it has thawed. Running water will also help to thaw the frozen part faster. Then, you should apply heat to the frozen portion of pipe. This can be done using a hair dryer, hot pad, or towels with hot water. Never use an open flame to heat the pipe, as this can both damage the pipe and start a fire in the house. Call a plumber to help thaw a difficult frozen pipe. Keep heat applied to the pipe until the water pressure has been restored to normal.
It is important to protect your pipes in order to prevent freezing from occurring. A frozen pipe can burst and lead to flooding and expensive damage in your building. Here at S & B Plumbing, we provide a multitude of services to ensure that your plumbing system can remain in superior condition. You rely on your water to provide many functions in your building and a frozen pipe can both disrupt this, as well as cause expensive damage to your building. If mold develops in your home due to the flooding from a frozen pipe, it can create a dangerous environment for all who live within the building. To learn more about the methods that you can take to prevent a frozen pipe, as well as to obtain emergency services after a pipe has burst, contact our experts today!