Extreme Cold Can Cause Pipes to Freeze and Burst
When the cold winter weather hits, the combination of the low temperature and harsh wind chill can result in pipes that freeze and burst. This can happen in homes or in commercial buildings when the temperature falls below freezing.
It isn’t actually the ice that makes the pipes crack. When the water in the pipes turns to ice, it expands and creates pressure. The pressure inside the pipes causes the pipes to crack. Don’t think that because you have a brand new home with copper plumbing that your pipes can’t freeze. Any type of pipe can freeze and crack in cold weather, regardless of whether the pipes are made of copper, plastic, or steel. A cracked pipe can be a major disaster. Even a small crack in your pipes can pour more than 200 gallons of water into your home in just one day.
At Scott English Plumbing, we are busy every winter fixing frozen and burst pipes for our customers. The worst time is not when the pipes freeze; it actually is worse when the temperature begins to warm and the pipes begin to thaw. That is when the water gets moving again and the cracks in the pipes begin to release gallon after gallon of water into your home. Fortunately, we have some tips for you to help prevent this disaster. Take these steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting this winter.
1. Do an exterior check of your home. Disconnect any garden hoses that are attached to outdoor spigots, and store them away for the winter. Use an insulation kit to cover the spigots. This will help to protect the pipes that enter and exit your home from outside from freezing. If any exterior spigots are leaking, have them repaired ASAP.
2. Is your washing machine kept in your garage? If your laundry area is in any unheated area, like a garage, you should pay special attention to the temperature outside. If the temperature is going to drop below freezing, you should disconnect the water lines and hoses to your washing machine so that they don’t freeze.
3. When your pipes are located along an exterior wall, you can leave a small drip of water running through both the cold and hot faucets in order to prevent freezing. Don’t let the water run into the drain, though, or it could freeze there. Place a bucket in the sink to catch the drips from the faucet, and you can use the water later to water your houseplants.
4. Give your pipes access to the warm air in the room by opening the cabinet doors under the sink in the kitchen and bathrooms.
5. Be sure that pipes located in the garage, crawl space, or any area that is not heated are adequately insulated. You can add insulation or heat tape to reduce the risk of pipes freezing.
6. Keep your thermostat set at a minimum of 55 degrees at all times. Even if you go out of town, your home needs to stay warm enough so that the pipes cannot freeze.
If your pipes have already frozen, the first thing that you should do is shut off the main water supply valve to the home. This will reduce pressure on the pipes and help prevent them from bursting. The second thing that you should do is to call Scott English Plumbing. We handle frozen and burst pipes all the time, and we are on call 24/7 to respond to these types of emergencies for you.