Simple Ways How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Winter
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Posted February 15, 2021
As winter has arrived, we all need to give our homes some love and attention so that they get us through the winter months. Unfortunately, the pipes in your home may suffer during winter as the water inside them freezes, causing an abundance of plumbing issues. How can you prevent frozen pipes as the weather gets colder?
If you aren’t sure how to take care of your pipes during winter, don’t worry. Here are a few tips to help you prevent your pipes from freezing.
What Are the Dangers of Frozen Pipes?
As water freezes, it expands dramatically. This sudden expansion of ice can cause them to burst, leading to serious water damage throughout your home.
This broken pipe can also freeze back over, causing the hole to extend over time. If you have any reason to suspect a pipe in your home has burst, you should hire assistance immediately to find and fix the burst.
Fortunately, you should only have to worry about burst pipes if the temperature drops below freezing temperatures. However, you should still use caution during the winter months if you live in a colder climate. If you don’t take proper precautions and temperatures drop suddenly during the night, you could be in for an unpleasant surprise in the morning.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Now that you know the dangers of your pipes freezing during the winter, it’s time to learn how to prevent frozen pipes. Here are some tips to keep your home safe this winter.
Keep the Heat On
To prevent your pipes from freezing, you must keep your home’s heating running at an even temperature at all times. This will keep the pipes in your home warm and should help keep the water in them from freezing.
It would be best if you kept your heat on even when you are away from home, no matter how long you intend to be gone. You don’t have to keep it at a very high temperature; keeping your thermostat at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit should prevent your pipes from freezing while you’re away.
Have Fans Blow Heat Into Cold Rooms
If you have rooms or spaces in your home that don’t have heaters, then you will want to find a way to supply them with heat. You can use fans to blow warm air from rooms with heaters into the colder rooms or purchase small heaters to place inside of the rooms. This tip is especially useful if you know that a particular room without heating has pipes running through it.
Let Your Faucets Drip
Letting water flow through your faucets, even if it’s a very light stream, will help keep the water from freezing in the pipes. Warm or hot water is best for this, as it will keep the pipes warm on the inside.
This can also help if the pipe has started freezing. Applying heat to the outside of the pipe while supplying warm water to the inside of the pipe will help melt or dislodge the ice built up on the inside. If this is the case, make sure the water is running very lightly; adding too much heat to the pipe at once can cause the metal to expand and potentially burst.
Use Extra Insulation
Using extra insulation in your basement and attic is a great way to prevent the pipes in those locations from freezing. The insulation will help to keep in heat and provide warmth to the pipes.
Even if your attic or basement already has insulation, you may want to consider applying some extra insulation around problem areas for the winter months. Place the insulation between the exterior wall and the pipe. This will keep the cold from getting to your pipe and causing it to freeze. This includes areas where there are several pipes or areas where a few pipes are at high risk of freezing.
You can add foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves around any exposed pipes to help them stay warm. However, you will still want to check on the pipes in these rooms regularly for anything abnormal.
Keep Cabinet Doors Open
Many homes have pipes inside of cabinets and cupboards. If you are worried that these areas are not getting enough heat, then keeping the cupboard doors open can help them stay warm. If the temperature in or around your home drops suddenly, then opening these doors is a great way to temporarily help your pipes.
Keep Your Garage Door Closed
Some homes have pipes inside the garage, which can directly become exposed to winter air if the door is left open. These pipes are at a high risk of bursting, as they have such a direct line to cold temperatures, so you must keep your garage door closed as much as possible.
You may want to consider adding insulation of protective sleeves around the pipes in your garage as well. This will help them stay warm longer.
Drain Water From Hoses and Pools Outside
The pipes inside of your home aren’t the only ones you need to worry about. Hoses and pipelines leading into outdoor pools are also at risk of bursting during the winter.
To protect your hoses, make sure they are properly drained and disconnected from the spigots, and stored as winter comes around. This includes water sprinkler lines as well, as those rubber hoses can become easily damaged if the water inside of them freezes.
Make sure your pool is also drained properly and any pipes leading from the pool into the surrounding area. A protective cover can be placed over the pool to help mitigate damage.
Store Hoses Indoors
Once you have properly drained and rolled up to any hoses outside, you should find a place to store them inside, at least in your garage. That way, any remaining water won’t have a chance to freeze over outside.
How to Identify Freezing or Frozen Pipes
If you are unfortunate enough to have one freeze even after taking precautions to prevent a frozen pipe, there are warning signs of frozen pipes that you can look out for.
Some plumbing lines are visible on the inside, meaning you can get a good look at what’s happening within the pipe. If the inside is coated in frost or a strange bulge is forming within the pipe, that’s a pretty clear sign that it has frozen. If the metal on the outside has started to bulge out, that’s also a good indication that something has gone wrong.
Unfortunately, not all pipes will allow you to see their internal workings easily. Your pipes may also be hidden behind walls, meaning you can’t identify any abnormalities in the pipes. In such a situation, you will have to rely on other detection methods.
One good way to figure out if there’s a potential frozen pipe in your home is to test sinks, toilets, and showers around the house. If any toilets are unable to flush or refill themselves, or if any faucets refuse to turn on, then you likely have a frozen pipe. To figure out the pipe’s exact location, you may want to contact a plumber for assistance.
What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If you discover a frozen pipe, then there are a few ways that you can try to get it under control. The first thing you’ll want to do is cut off the water to that pipe or the entire house if you are unable to control the specific pipe; this is because the ice inside may be acting as a blockage inside of the pipe, holding in water that will spray out once the ice has thawed. Get a bucket and mop ready for the thawing process- you may have some cleanup work to do!
Gently warming the outside of the pipe with space heaters or any other warm substance can help the ice inside thaw. If the pipe ends up bursting, or if you discover other issues with your pipe, you should call a professional for help.
Ensure you clear out any valuables or electronics that you don’t want to be damaged as you thaw out the pipe. You are likely to experience some leakage as you remove the ice inside of the pipe, so preparing the room is a must before you begin. If you aren’t confident with your abilities or aren’t sure what to do, you can always contact a plumber for assistance.
What to Do If a Pipe Bursts
Unfortunately, you may not be able to prevent a frozen pipe from bursting. If you are unlucky enough to have a pipe burst in your home, there are some steps you’ll need to take so that you can mitigate damages.
Start by immediately shutting off the water in your home. The longer the water stays on, the more water can leak out of your pipe and into your home.
Next, call your local plumber- they will be able to replace any damaged parts and get the leak under control. While you wait for the plumber to arrive, you can get to work on drying off the area; you can use mops, towels, sponges, or wet/dry vacuums to try and get rid of the water. Once you’ve gotten rid of what you can, putting a dehumidifier in the room can help the area stay dry.
If you have any belongings in the room, you may want to remove them for the time being to avoid them becoming damaged. Any electronics in the room should be immediately unplugged and removed as a safety precaution.
When to Call a Professional
No matter how much planning you do, you may not be able to avoid mistakes when it comes to prepping your home for winter. It’s important to know what jobs you can do yourself and when you should call a professional.
Before winter arrives, you should search your home for leaky pipes. Many plumbers offer leak detection services to help you locate any problematic pipes in your house. If you have any reason to suspect one of your pipes is leaking, then calling a plumber for a second opinion is a good idea.
Should one of your pipes start to swell up, you should call a plumber right away. They will be able to help you maintain your pipes and get any frozen pipes back under control. If you don’t take care of those right away, you may have more costly repairs to deal with later.
Finally, if you are subject to a burst pipe, make sure you contact a professional immediately. They will have the proper tools, skills, and knowledge to get the broken pipe under control.
Keep Your Home Safe this Winter
As winter approaches, you must take the proper precautions to prevent frozen pipes in your home. Use these tips to avoid serious water damage as the cold months arrive, and always keep your home warm to protect yourself and your belongings!
Do you have a leaky or frozen pipe in your home that you need to be fixed right away?
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