Preventing frozen pipes this winter starts with you! The winter season brings frigid temperatures, heaps of ice and snow, and potential plumbing problems. Frozen pipes are every homeowner’s worst nightmare, and it can happen if a house’s plumbing isn’t properly prepared. If your home has frozen pipes, it’s much worse than a plumbing nuisance, but a flooding catastrophe. Luckily preventing frozen pipes is easy if it’s done ahead of time.
Knowing When You Have Frozen Pipes
Understanding how your plumbing can freeze is a good place to start. Contrary to popular belief, your pipes don’t burst where the water inside freezes, but somewhere between the freeze and a closed faucet. When the pressure builds due to an ice blockage, that water has nowhere to go but through the pipe walls, causing your pipes to burst and cause some serious damage. Preparation is crucial, but it’s also important to act fast if you suspect you have frozen pipes. Here are a few warning signs.
- Frost on the pipes. Search for all your exposed pipes such as under your sink or in the basement. If you find frost accumulating on any exposed pipes, that indicates you have frozen pipes.
- No running water. If you’re having little to no success running water out of a faucet, it could be a handful of plumbing problems. There’s no guarantee that frozen pipes are the culprit for a lack of running water, but it’s best to contact a plumber urgently.
- Foul odors. Another potential sign for frozen pipes is an odd or unpleasant smell coming out of a faucet or drain. If a pipe is partially or completely blocked up, the only direction those foul odors can go is back up.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Preparing your home’s plumbing involves proper protection and insulation for your pipes. Your home’s plumbing by can’t protect itself from the cold if there are any air leaks, damaged or missing insulation, or excess running water and open valves. Most of your plumbing is tucked inside walls or underneath your house, automatically protected with some sort of layer of insulation. Your house alone isn’t always enough to protect your plumbing, so are six tips to help prevent frozen pipes.
- Insulate your pipes. One of the best ways to prevent frozen pipes is by adding some insulation directly to your plumbing. Depending on where you live, your pipes may require heavier insulation such as polyethylene or fiberglass. Wrapping your pipes with heat tape before insulating also helps to add an extra layer of protection.
- Let your faucets drip. If your pipes are frozen, they burst due to the pressure of water having nowhere to escape. Letting your faucets run a small and steady drip can prevent a lot of busted pipes and some freezing as it constantly keeps the water inside your pipes running.
- Open your cabinet doors. You want the heat to circulate throughout as much of your house as possible, and inside closed cabinets is several cold pockets of air that can potentially freeze any exposed pipes. Leaving all doors open allows for better heat circulation throughout your house, and it prevents your furnace from overworking itself.
- Seal air leaks. The most common cause for frozen pipes is a lack of insulation, which includes your home’s foundation, outside walls, and inner insulation. Check for any cracks, holes, and damages, and seal them up right away. Foam insulation or caulking should work to seal most air leaks.
- Close up your crawl space. Before the snow falls, it’s important to seal your crawl space closed. Seal up all crawl space vents with heavy-duty cardboard and duct tape it in place, and close off all access to your crawl space.
- Drain your hose bibs. There’s the indoor plumbing to protect, but when the leaves fall and the flowers die, it’s easy to forget about your outdoor plumbing. Your hose bibs, for example, if left unattended, can burst in the night. Make sure to detach your hoses, drain your hose bibs, insulate them, and shut off their valve before the freezing temperatures hit.
Don’t Wait for Your Basement to Turn into an Ice Skating Rink
Struggling to keep warm this winter season is enough of a struggle, and frozen pipes are a major holiday downer. Nobody should have to put with the water damage and costly repairs that come from a busted pipe, especially when it can be avoided. Your home deserves functioning plumbing, no matter what time of year. Call a plumber today if it’s time to winterize your plumbing.
Call Rebmann today for more information on preventing frozen pipes!