Winter brings with it the joy of snowflakes, cozy blankets, and hot cocoa. But for homeowners, it also brings the risk of frozen pipes. When water inside the pipes freezes, it expands, potentially leading to burst pipes and a costly, messy aftermath. Fortunately, with a bit of preparation and knowledge, you can safeguard your home against this chilly predicament.
Why Do Pipes Freeze?
Pipes freeze when the water inside them is exposed to prolonged cold temperatures, especially when the temperature drops below the freezing point. Pipes located in unheated areas of the home, like basements, attics, and crawl spaces, are particularly susceptible. Additionally, pipes running through exterior walls with inadequate insulation are at a higher risk.
Steps to Prevent Frozen Pipes:
Insulate Exposed Pipes: Wrap pipes in unheated areas with foam pipe insulation. This material is readily available at hardware stores and is easy to install.
Seal Drafts: Check for drafts near pipes. Use caulk or insulation to seal up gaps and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings.
Let Faucets Drip: On especially cold nights, let cold water drip from faucets. This continuous flow, even at a trickle, can prevent freezing.
Open Cabinet Doors: Allow warmer room air to circulate around plumbing by opening cabinet doors under sinks.
Disconnect Outdoor Hoses: Remove hoses from outdoor spigots and drain them. Shut off the interior valve leading to the outdoor faucet and open the outdoor faucet to let any remaining water drain out.
Maintain a Consistent Temperature: Keep your home’s thermostat set to a consistent temperature, even when you’re not home.
Install Heat Tape: For pipes especially prone to freezing, consider using electric heat tapes that warm pipes when temperatures drop.
What to Do If Pipes Freeze:
- Turn Off the Water: Shut off the main water valve to prevent flooding if the frozen pipe bursts.
- Apply Heat: Use a hairdryer, heating pad, or warm cloth to thaw the frozen section. Never use an open flame.
- Open Faucets: Once you’ve identified the frozen area, open the faucet to allow water to flow and relieve pressure.
- Call a Plumber: If you’re unable to locate the frozen section, if the frozen section is not accessible, or if you can’t thaw the pipe, call a professional.
Frozen pipes can lead to significant damage and expense, but with proactive measures, you can protect your home. Regular maintenance and vigilance during the colder months are key. And remember, when in doubt, or faced with a plumbing emergency, don’t hesitate to call your trusted local Brooklyn plumbers at CID Plumbing for expert assistance.