Freezing temperatures are on their way. This may have you thinking about your furnace, but you should also be mindful of your household plumbing.
When the temperature drops below freezing, there’s always the potential that the water in some pipes may freeze. In the best-case scenario, the ice temporarily stops the flow of water before thawing when temperatures rise. But it doesn’t take extreme temperatures for expanding ice to actually break a vulnerable pipe, putting your home at risk for leaks or even significant flooding.
As we transition to winter, keep these tips in mind to avoid this messy and costly problem.
Knowing is Half the Battle
Most homeowners don’t know the locations of every foot of pipe in their homes. A pipe that is heated or well insulated in some areas may be fully exposed to the elements somewhere else down the line. All it takes is a small frozen section to result in a major break. So to know where you might be at risk, ask your local plumber to conduct a thorough audit of your plumbing system for freezing risks.
Wrap It Up
Once you know where you have pipes that are at risk, protect them with insulation. Some pipes, like those in a cold basement, can be sufficiently insulated by merely wrapping newspaper around them. But for those in colder areas, it’s better to spring for foam tube insulation. For the most extreme temperatures, you may need to use heated tape specially designed for pipes.
Open All Night
If it’s an especially cold night, leave the doors of your under-sink cabinets open overnight. Exposing those pipes directly to the heat inside your home can make a big difference when the temperature outdoors is below freezing.
Keep It Running
In a pinch, you can keep an exposed pipe from freezing by allowing the water to run continuously. This will waste water and can create a small ice skating rink in the case of an outdoor hose spigot, but it beats dealing with a flooded home. Fortunately, just a thin stream of water is enough to prevent a pipe from freezing.
Bring the Heat
If one of your pipes does freeze, you may still be able to prevent damage by thawing the frozen section from the outside. The best way to do this is with a hair dryer; never use an open flame.
Winter is Here
If your boiler breaks down unexpectedly, you might face an increased risk of pipe freezing during the time it takes to repair or replace the unit. So to avoid this emergency, be sure to get your furnace inspected and tuned up before the coldest weather arrives.
The Main Thing
If the worst happens and you do have a broken, frozen pipe, your ability to shut off your home’s entire water supply can save you from major flood damage. Make sure you know where your main shutoff valve is located.
If you’re still unsure about whether your pipes are ready for the sub-freezing temperatures of winter, reach out to your local plumbing experts for a no-obligation consultation.