Northeastern winters can be beasts in themselves, but they can also bring dangers like frozen pipes. Every year, thousands of homeowners experience pipe bursts in their homes due to cold temperatures. These situations can cost hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in damage and the worst part is – they can be prevented. Here, we share some tips for how to prevent frozen pipes this winter:
Pay Attention to the Lows
As winter progresses, low temperatures can drop way below freezing into the teens or single digits. The colder it gets, the more susceptible your pipes are, so pay attention to the temperature. While pipes won’t necessarily freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature at which water freezes), they could freeze just several degrees below that. If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, start thinking about your pipes and make sure they receive some heat.
Home insulation works to seal in the heat and keep you warm; pipe insulation does the same thing to pipes. Before winter sets in, take a look at your pipe insulation. Is it in the right places? Do you have enough? Do you need more? Pay close attention to your pipes’ elbows “T”s, where they’re more susceptible to freezing. When you have the proper amount of insulation, you can help prevent frozen pipes and pipe bursts that cause damage.
Know What Happens
When pipes freeze, they are at the risk of bursting. Many homeowners believe this happens when the water inside them turns to ice and presses against the inside of the pipes. However, this isn’t entirely true. While burst pipes are caused by ice, the damage usually occurs in an area that doesn’t have water in it. Instead, it’s a simple pressure situation. When you don’t turn on your water, pressure builds inside of your pipes. If there’s an ice block present, the pressure will become isolated in the area between the ice and the closed faucet. After enough pressure, the pipe will burst. By knowing this, you can better prevent the situation.
Now that you know pressure is the cause of a pipe burst, you can work to relieve it. If you’re going to be away from your home for several days (and temperatures are low), turn your faucets on to as slow of a water drip as possible. This relieves the pressure in the pipes while you’re gone. In addition, you can open up your sink cabinet doors to help circulate more heat to the area. If you’re leaving for an extended period of time, play it safe by draining your water system and making sure there’s no water left in your pipes.
This winter if you turn on your faucet and no water comes out, don’t turn it back off. Instead, leave it “running” to relieve pipe pressure and call our plumbing experts as soon as possible. If you’ve already experienced a pipe burst, turn off your main water valve and call us immediately.