Rapid dips in temperature, poor insulation and setting your thermostat too low can make it all too easy for your pipes to freeze during the winter. Even worse than pipes freezing over is when they burst. According to the Institute of Business & Home Safety, frozen pipes that rupture can result in more than $5,000 in water damage. Not only does a frozen pipe result in costly damage to the infrastructure of your home water system, it also can stop the flow of water from your faucets for your everyday use. Take control of the situation before it happens. Here are five tips on how to prevent pipes from freezing this cold weather season.
The idea behind preventing a frozen pipe is to increase the temperature surrounding it. This means opening those kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors that hold the major plumbing pipes within. By doing this, warmer air from the household can better circulate around these pipes and help stop water in the pipes from freezing over. You can also apply heating tape to the pipes that are easily accessible.
When pipes begin to freeze, the ice blockage that forms combines with the stream of water that’s approaching the block and causes an increase in pressure within the pipe, ultimately causing it to burst. To relieve pressure in the water system, allow water to drip from the faucet. A steady drip will help pressure escape as water flows through the pipes, and work to prevent a busted pipe.
It may seem counterintuitive to keep the heat on while you’re not home, but by maintaining a constant, warmer temperature, you can prevent your pipes from freezing over. If you leave your house for an extended period of time and turn your thermostat off completely, you put your pipes at risk of dipping to the freezing point for water, which is 32°F. Be sure to keep your thermostat set to no lower than 55°F when you’re away.
When cold temperatures hit, it’s crucial to take the added measures to increase pipe insulation. You can place foam rubber and fiberglass sleeves on pipes to help decrease their chances of freezing. Also, keeping the heat circulation within the house also helps. Close the garage door and seal up the cracks and holes throughout the house with caulk. This will work to keep the warm air in and cold air out so that your pipes aren’t exposed to unnecessary cold.
Knowing what to do when pipes freeze can prevent them from busting. Thaw them before they burst by safely applying heat directly to the pipe or around it. For example, an electric heating pad wrapped around the frozen pipe can help thaw ice within the pipe, or placing a space heater near the pipe can increase the heat surrounding it. But do not apply direct flames to the pipe as it can cause damage or possibly start a fire.
As the temperature drops, make sure you’re taking the steps to winterize your water pipes. In addition to preventing pipes from freezing, you also want to monitor your water quality during these cold weather months. If you notice any changes in the odor or taste of your running water, you can schedule a free, in-home water test with Culligan. Don’t let winter burst your pipes and stop you from getting the water you deserve, take the proper measures to protect against frozen pipes.