Frozen pipes can cost homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs. It’s possible to avoid expensive problems by taking preventative steps.
Opening cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms allows warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Also, leaving faucets running – even at a trickle – keeps water moving and can help melt ice blockages.
Open Cabinet Doors
One of the best ways to prevent frozen pipes is to leave cabinet doors open under sinks. This allows warm air from the room to circulate and helps keep the pipes warmer. This also helps thaw any ice that may be forming. It is a good idea to do this in all rooms where water pipes are located, but especially in kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Another way to keep your pipes warm is to use heating tape or mastic seals on exposed pipes, as these can add an extra layer of protection against freezing. These products can be purchased from most hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive to install. However, it is still important to properly insulate your pipes so that they don’t need any extra help from these products.
Frozen pipes can cause tremendous pressure, and this can lead to a burst pipe if the pressure gets high enough. If a pipe freezes and breaks, it is not usually because of the ice itself but because of the pressure built up from the ice blocking the remaining water supply. Opening the cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathrooms can reduce this pressure and make the pipes less likely to freeze and burst.
Homeowners are often told to turn down their heat while they are away for the winter, but this can actually increase your risk of frozen pipes. Instead, you should keep your home at a temperature of 55 degrees or higher. This might result in a slightly higher utility bill, but it is far cheaper than the cost of repairing and replacing your pipes if they freeze and burst.
You should also disconnect any outdoor hoses and shut off the inside water valve for any faucets that lead outside, as well as the main valve for the water line at your house’s meter. You can then drain the hoses and water lines by turning on an indoor faucet until all of the water has drained.
Also, if your crawl space vents blow cold air, you should close them during extremely cold weather to prevent cold air from reaching exposed plumbing. If you can’t close them, you should put something like a bale of hay in front of the vents to block the cold air.
Close Garage Doors
Frozen pipes can quickly burst and result in dangerous, damaging flooding. To prevent this problem, it is important to take several measures to keep your home warm. This includes leaving the heat on, closing the garage door, and letting one or two faucets drip. You should also insulate any water pipes exposed in your home’s cold areas. There are products available to do this, including foam insulation.
Another thing you can do is open cabinet doors in kitchens and bathrooms to allow warm air to circulate. Closed garage doors can lead to a drop in temperature and expose at-risk water supply lines to freezing temperatures.
While you may want to save energy and reduce your utility bill, you should never turn the heat off completely when you are away from your home. A frozen pipe will cost far more than a small heating bill. You should keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night.
It’s also a good idea to keep cabinet doors open and let the cold water run in any faucets served by an exposed pipe. This will prevent the ice from expanding and potentially breaking the pipe. In addition, it is a good idea to keep the refrigerator’s water dispenser turned on, ensuring a constant flow of cold water.
If you suspect that a pipe is frozen, it is important to act immediately. First, try turning on a faucet to see if any water is flowing. If no water is coming out, or if the water that is flowing is only a trickle, you should immediately apply heat to the affected area.
This can be done by directing heat from an electric heating pad wrapped around the frozen section of the pipe, a portable space heater, or using an electric hair dryer. After applying heat, it’s a good idea to keep the faucet running so that as the ice melts, it can flow through the pipe and thaw out any remaining ice.
Keep Your Thermostat at a Steady Temperature
While it may seem counterintuitive to turn your thermostat up during freezing temperatures, keeping a steady temperature throughout the day and night can actually help prevent pipes from freezing. The constant heat will keep the water inside your pipes warm and less likely to freeze and burst.
Frozen water pipes can be one of the costliest repairs to your home in the winter. If left untreated, they can lead to flooding and serious property damage. This is especially true for unheated rooms or spaces, such as attics and garages.
Even if your pipes are well-insulated, the risk of them freezing is higher if they are in a place where the temperature is consistently below freezing for an extended period of time. This is particularly true for aging, uninsulated, or poorly insulated pipes.
If you think a pipe in your home is frozen, first turn off your water. This will allow the ice plug to melt without spraying water everywhere in your house. Then, try applying direct or indirect heat to the frozen section of your pipe. This can be done by using an electric heating pad, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch or any open flame device, as this can cause the pipe to explode.
Once you have the ice thawed, slowly turn on your water again and check for any areas of concern. Call a professional plumber if you still see any signs of a frozen pipe or if your pipes were exposed to freezing temperatures for too long.
Another preventative measure is to patch any drafts in your home. The smallest openings can let cold air in, lowering the temperature around your pipes and making them more likely to freeze.
For a more permanent solution, you can install electrical heating tape or cables on your pipes to help prevent them from freezing. These devices are simple to install and come in manual or self-monitoring options that automatically detect when your pipes are too cold.
Turn on Faucets
When a pipe freezes, it expands and can cause water pressure to build up behind the blockage. This increased pressure can cause the ice to crack or break the pipe.
A constant flow of water will prevent this by melting the ice and relieving the pressure. This is why it’s important to leave a trickle of water running, especially if your pipes are located in unheated areas like attics, garages, basements, or crawl spaces. This will also help to prevent any damage caused by a frozen pipe that bursts and ruins your home’s interior or exterior.
To thaw a frozen pipe, using a heat source, such as a hair dryer or portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials) is crucial. The heat should be directed at the section of the pipe that has frozen. It’s important to start thawing the pipe as close as possible to the faucet and work toward the coldest area of the pipe. Also, remember to open the faucet so that as the ice melts, the water can flow through the pipe, reducing the chance of leaks or flooding.
As a final precaution, keeping the faucet turned on at all times during a freeze is recommended. Even a small stream of water, the size of a pencil lead, will do. This will allow the water to continuously move and keep it warm. It is also important to ensure that your water shutoff valve is fully functional so you can shut off the water immediately if your pipes do freeze.
Frozen pipes can be a real headache to deal with. They can cost you money, cause severe water damage, and even ruin your home’s interior. So, it’s always best to take these simple steps before the temperatures drop below freezing.