It's that time of year again. Hot cocoa, cozy fires, and frozen pipes. If you, like most, would prefer to make it through this winter without a big mess in your home from a frozen pipe, read below to find out why frozen pipes happen and how you can prevent them from happening to your home.
It's About to Blow
Your plumbing pipes are not normally under pressure, and that is the way it should be. Pressure, though, is exactly what causes burst pipes in the wintertime. Water, even small amounts of it, is almost always present in your pipes and when the temperatures plummet, that water can become ice. What happens next is usually unseen by homeowners as they go about their day. As the ice in the pipes expands, it creates an opening in the pipe. Most pipes are strong, but not strong enough to hold the weight and pressure of frozen water. It's later, though, when the problems happen. As the temperature rises and the ice melts, water goes everywhere. If you are lucky, it explodes from your outside faucets or maybe your basement. Unfortunately, it can also leak from under your sink, behind your washer, and even inside your walls and other places.
Take Steps to Prevent This Disaster
When a hard freeze threatens, make sure your pipes stay as unfrozen as possible:
- Insulate any pipes that are exposed and outdoors with insulation.
- Weatherproof your crawlspaces and seal the doors and windows in your basement.
- If you have a sprinkler system, drain it completely in the fall before it gets frosty.
- Keep garage doors closed and cabinet doors under sinks open.
- Inspect your attic for cold air leaks and drafty windows.
- Remove and drain all water-hoses.
- Even though reducing your thermostat at night saves money and energy, if the forecast is for a hard freeze, turn the heating up a bit to help keep your interior pipes warmer.
- Prevent water from freezing in the pipes by allowing faucets to slowly drip. This trick works by ensuring that water is kept moving at all times rather than sitting and freezing.
If you find a faucet that won't work, you might have a frozen pipe. Your first order of business is to call a professional plumber that works on an emergency basis. They can survey the pipe and possibly prevent further damage by stopping the leak and repairing the pipe. The sooner you call, the faster you will get help and prevent serious damage to your walls, floors, and more. If your pipes are frozen, chances are others will be too and the plumber will be busy so phone and get the help of an emergency plumber right away.