January 6, 2017

As colder weather sweeps the country, there are many threats to your home’s plumbing. One of these is frozen pipes. When water inside your pipes freezes, it expands. This expansion can wreak havoc on the pipes that run throughout your house, causing ruptures and cracks. There are several steps you can take to prevent freezing from happening, as well as thawing them back out if it does.

Preventing

The best method to ensure healthy plumbing is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Disconnect outdoor water hose

A garden hose left out in the cold can cause a chain reaction of freezing to take place throughout your home. Water could freeze in the hose and then move into the water lines.

Insulating all water pipes

Use foam/rubber pipe insulator or some other safe method to keep pipes dry and help prevent freezing. This needs to be done correctly in order to prevent mold growth and decay by generating and retaining moisture inside.

Keep pipes heated

This can be done in a variety of ways. Heat tape and heated reflector lamps are two examples of ways to keep pipes from freezing.

Keep home warm

Turning up the thermostat will help in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout the home and increase the temperature of everything inside. It is also important to keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid the forming of condensation.

Turn off sprinkler system

Not only does the main water supply to the irrigation system need to be shut off, but it also needs to be protected. Make sure that it is wrapped in insulation or some other form of shelter to protect it from freezing temperatures. This can even be done with mulch or pine straw.

Drip faucets

Keep water running through the pipes at a slow rate by dripping your faucets. This helps to avoid the settling of water. Another tip is to attach a string to the faucet that hangs down to avoid annoying dripping sounds.

Thawing

If pipes do freeze, there are best practices when it comes to thawing them back out.

Apply heat to pipe and surrounding air directly

This can be done with a hair dryer, heat gun, electric heating pad, space heater, bare incandescent bulbs, heat lamps and other methods. This heating needs to be applied gradually and evenly and monitored closely to avoid pipe and water damage.

Wrap with heat tape/cable

This can be purchased from most hardware stores. Wrap this tape/cable around the pipe in a single layer and then plug it in. Do not overlap electric heat tape/cable. It is recommended to wrap around pipe in a spiral motion.

Open faucets slightly

This is the same idea as prevention. Flowing water will help reduce stagnant water and result in less freezing. Also, the running water will help thaw out the ice if it does develop.

Pour salt down frozen drain

Salt lowers the melting point of ice. Start with pouring a tablespoon of salt down the drain and then give it a few moments to start working.

If you’re leaving your house for an extended period of time this winter, there are certain steps that should be taken to avoid coming home to frozen pipes and subsequent damage. Shut off the main water supply and open all faucets. This will help empty the water out of the pipes and reduce the sitting water left. Also, flushing all of the toilets helps accomplish this. Before you leave, set your thermostat no lower than 55º F. Doing so will aid in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout your home.

There are many ways to prevent and thaw out frozen pipes. Prevention is always the better route to avoid any serious and long-term damage. If a freeze does happen, locating the frozen pipe and then taking the necessary steps can be very tedious and difficult. It is recommended to get the help of a professional before acting uninformed. Contact Eastern Plumbing for all of your frozen pipe needs.

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