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How to Keep Pipes From Freezing This Winter Season

by | Dec 16, 2020 | 0 comments

With the temperatures dropping and the snow headed our way, homeowners should take the necessary actions to keep their pipes from freezing. We have everything you need to know as to why your pipes freeze and how to avoid freezing pipes within your home.

It’s important to know the different strategies that will keep pipes from freezing. Avoid those costly bills that result from freezing pipes due to a drop in temperature during the winter. Once you know the reason for freezing pipes and pipe bursts in your home, you will be able to take all of the necessary precautions to make sure it does not happen to you!

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

Water system pipes will freeze if they are exposed to a decrease in temperatures for a long duration of time. It’s important to know that the colder it is outside, the faster a pipe can freeze and eventually burst. This means that if temperatures are 25 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, then you should work fast to take all of the necessary precautions to keep your pipes from freezing.

When water in the pipe freezes, it will expand and try to find somewhere to go, such as an open path back to the water supply. This will result in the pressure being relieved and no problems will occur. If it cannot find anywhere to go, then the pressure will build up, causing the pipe to burst. This will result in the pipe separating or valves breaking.

After the break, the pressure will be relieved and some water may leak out from the breakage. Damage will occur after the frozen water melts and water continues to flow. The flowing water will flow out of the break until the leak is identified and fixed by the homeowner.

How To Identify The Cause To Frozen Pipes

The location of the pipe break can tell a lot about the cause of the break and how it may have occurred. If the break was located on an exterior wall, then the pipe may have not been properly insulated. If the break was located on an interior wall, then it was likely due to an insufficient amount of heat in that room.

Another cause of pipes breaking can be a mechanical failure of a furnace or boiler. This can cause loss of heat in an entire home or building.

To prevent mechanical failures of a furnace or boiler that can cause pipe bursts, it’s important to understand the condition of your boiler by reading and checking for fault codes, tripped breakers, control settings, power supply, and previous maintenance and repairs on the unit.

Make sure to document your thermostat settings to determine the status of your heating system:

  • Was the heat set to off?
  • What was the temperature set at?
  • Are the batteries to the thermostat dead (if your thermostat uses batteries)

Gas and oil usage data is very helpful in determining if the furnace was operating correctly. It’s also good to know the water usage and electricity usage. If any one of these things are not working properly, then pipe freezing can occur.

Pipe freeze investigations can be complex, but proper techniques and documentation can simplify the process to finding the cause. Low thermostat settings or furnace malfunctions means that less heat is being used, causing the furnace to not heat the water system properly. This will lead to frozen pipes.

To learn more, view this article by Adam Storm about Pipe Freezing Investigations.

How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing?

Here are some tips to help prevent your pipes from freezing. It is important to make sure you are familiar with how your water system is set up at your house.

Check Your Sprinkler & Irrigation Systems 

Once you are familiar with your water system, make sure you have turned everything off and fully drained your sprinkler or irrigation systems before going into the winter season.

You do not want to have excess water stored in places where it is not necessary.

Identify Your Home’s Freezing Points

There may be areas in your home that can turn colder than others throughout the winter season. Be sure to check your home for pipes in areas that may be prone to freezing.

These areas can be anywhere such as crawl spaces, basements, garages, and exterior walls.

Know How To Turn Off The Main Water Shut-Off Valve

It is very important that you know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, you will need to shut off the water immediately.

When a pipe bursts, it creates space for water to flow out of the damaged area. This results in leaks and flooding within your home. That is why you should turn off the main water shut-off valve as soon as you realize a pipe has burst.

Protect Your Pipes & Water Meters

In order to protect your pipes, you should wrap exposed pipes with insulation so that they can stay warm throughout the winter.

For water meters that are kept outside, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly so that it is well protected from the weather. 

Steps To Take When Temperatures Begin To Drops

When air temperatures begin to drop well below freezing during the winter season, you should take the following steps within your home to lower the risk of your pipes freezing…

Run Your Water In Your Home

It is important to keep the water flowing throughout your home. To do this, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing.

If you are worried about wasting water, then consider collecting the water for later use such as watering indoor plants or use it for other things.. The cost of a short-term water flow throughout the night is much less costly than a repair to a burst pipe due to a freezing pipe.

Open Doors To Expose Pipes That Could Freeze

Pipes need to say warm in colder weathers. Therefore, you should try opening cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures.

Since your home will be heated during the winter season, your pipes should be exposed to this heat in order to prevent them from freezing.

What To Do When Your Pipes Freeze

If your pipes do happen to freeze, then you should work fast before they burst or cause damage to your home.

The first thing you should do is immediately shut off the water supply within your home. After the water supply is shut off, then you can begin applying heat to the frozen pipes.

To apply heat to the frozen pipe or pipes, then you should work to warm the air around it. You can do this by using a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water. Space heaters should not be left unattended and you should avoid using kerosene heaters or open flames.

Pipe Freezing Conclusion

Freezing pipes during the winter time can be a real pain to homeowners. If you know the important steps to checking your water supply, then this can save you big money by avoiding a large repair/cleanup bill due to damages in your home from freezing and bursting pipes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us today!

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