With the cold weather fast approaching, there is no time like the present to begin planning for predicted spikes in freezing weather conditions. Frozen pipes are a common occurrence in frigid weather, often resulting in busted water pipes that can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damages to homes and businesses across the country. The experts at The Original $49.95 Plumber have provided the following information on why pipes freeze, how to prevent them from freezing, and how to unfreeze them to avoid water damage.
What Causes Plumbing Pipes to Freeze?
Pipes are particularly vulnerable to expanding water. When your water lines are exposed to frigid temperatures, pipes in basements, crawl spaces, kitchen cabinets, and pipes that run up against exterior walls rarely have enough insulation making them particularly susceptible to freezing. Several factors can contribute to frozen pipes, including building construction, insulation quality, drop in temperatures, and other weather-related issues. Your plumbing age can also be a contributing factor; for example, corrosion and rust can weaken your pipes, allowing leaks to form. As pipes freeze, corrosion can cause them to split apart. As pipes begin to thaw, damage can also occur. In many instances, damage occurs when the water is turned back on. Pipes can also freeze during ice storms when power to the home is lost. As water freezes, it expands, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on your pipes.
How to Prevent Water Pipes from Freezing
Disconnect and drain outside hoses, roll, and store appropriately. Close inside valves that supply water to your outdoor hoses. Keep the outside valve open to allow any water remaining within the pipe room to expand without causing damage to the pipe. Inspect the attic, basement, crawl space, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets and insulate both the hot and cold water pipes to prevent them from freezing. Turn on your faucets to allow them to drip; moving water can help prevent pipes from freezing. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets doors to allow warm air to circulate around your plumbing freely. If you plan on traveling during the holidays, leave the heat on in your home and turn off the water supply. Leave taps open after you have turned off the main water supply. Keeping the valves open will help stop the pipes from bursting.
How to Unfreeze Frozen Pipes
The first step is to locate the frozen pipe; the easiest way to do this is to turn on all of the faucets to check which is either not flowing or is running with just a trickle. In most cases, the pipe leading to the tap is the likely culprit. Once you have located the frozen line, open up the faucet using both the hot and cold handles to allow the water to flow as the pipe begins to thaw. The best way to thaw a frozen pipe is to start at the faucet and work your way down to the frozen area. Never start at the blockage as the melting ice can become jammed behind the backup causing pressure to build up and potentially cause the pipe to break. There are a number of ways to thaw pipes, and one of the simplest is with a hairdryer. Begin by pointing the hair dryer at the frozen line closest to the faucet. Always follow safety precautions when using the hairdryer around water. Never allow the dryer to come in contact with the water. Alternatively, you can wrap hot towels soaked in hot water around the frozen pipe. This method takes longer to achieve the desired results, but it is one of the safest.
What to Do if a Pipe Bursts in Your House or Apartment
If you are unfortunate enough to have a pipe burst, turn off the water at the main value as quickly as possible before calling the experts at The Original $49.95 Plumber for immediate assistance.