How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in the Winter
When the temperatures drop during the Winter season, it’s important to take a few precautions to ensure the pipes in your home don’t freeze and burst. A burst pipe has the potential to damage areas of your home such as the drywall, flooring, furniture, electronics, and appliances. Gaining an understanding of the causes of pipe bursts and the various ways to prevent frozen pipes will help you save money on expensive repairs in your home.
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How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing
If the temperatures drop below 20° F in your area, the pipes in your attic and basement are at risk of freezing if they haven’t been insulated. If a pipe bursts, you will be required to pay for a costly water line repair or installation project to restore the flow of water in your home. So, how do you prevent pipes from freezing during the winter season? We’ve put together a list of recommendations that can be used to save money.
Add Insulation to the Water Lines
Uninsulated areas of the home such as the attic, basement, or crawl space are the most susceptible to pipe bursts. To keep the temperatures stable, we recommend adding insulation to these areas. The local hardware store in your area should stock foam pipe sleeves that are designed to be installed on top of the pipes in your home. After you have installed the pipe sleeves over the water lines in your attic and basement, we recommend maintaining a temperature of 55° F or higher to prevent issues. Also, it’s important to fix all cracks and holes around the doors, windows, garage doors, and chimney to prevent warm air from exiting the home.
Keep the Faucets on a Low Setting
If you don’t want to invest in new insulation for your home, an affordable method to prevent pipes from freezing is to keep your faucets on a low setting throughout the day. Turn on the faucets in your home and allow the water to continuously drip into the sink. Keeping the faucets activated will ensure water is continuously moving through your water supply lines. This will help lower the pressure levels in your plumbing system and prevent frozen pipes.
Remember to Close the Garage Doors
When you arrive home after grocery shopping or picking up the kids from school, we recommend shutting the garage door. This will prevent warm air from escaping the garage. Water supply lines that are installed in the garage area are especially vulnerable to cold temperatures and pipe bursts.
Keep the Cabinet Doors Open
If you have a kitchen or bathroom sink that is located on an exterior wall, keeping the cabinet doors open may help keep your pipes from freezing. This will allow the warm air produced by your furnace, boiler, or heat pump to penetrate your plumbing system to prevent frozen pipes.
Buy Heating Tape
Another excellent method that is able to be used to keep pipes from freezing is heating tape. This type of tape is able to provide and preserve heat for the water supply lines in your home. This is an excellent way to prevent small areas of pipes from freezing that are able to be easily reached by the homeowner. Some types of heating tape are able to automatically activate and deactivate throughout the day to prevent frozen pipes. Other types of heating tape will need to be plugged into an outlet when heat is needed.
Other Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing
- Remove outdoor hoses and drain them.
- Close inside water valves that supply water to hose bibs.
- Drain water from sprinkler and pool supply water lines.
- Turn outside water valves on so the water can expand without freezing pipes.
What Causes Pipes to Burst?
If there are supply lines in your home that aren’t insulated, the freezing temperatures are able to penetrate and damage your plumbing system. When the water in a supply line freezes, it expands and causes the pressure levels in the pipe to increase. If the water supply line is not strong enough to accommodate the high pressure, the pipe will burst and cause damage throughout the home.
As pipes become older and reach the end of their lifespan, they are more likely to burst. Frozen pipes are at risk of bursting if they contain weak joints. However, a breakage is able to occur with new water supply systems as well. If the pressure from the frozen ice becomes too high to accommodate, it may burst right out of the pipe exterior.
High Water Pressure
Most people believe it’s better to have high water pressure in the home. Yes, this may be true to an extent. However, excessively high water pressure is able to cause pipe bursts and damage plumbing fixtures in the home. To confirm if the water pressure is too high, install a water pressure gauge to the bathroom or kitchen sink and activate the faucet. If the water pressure exceeds 60 Pounds Per Square Inch (PSI), the pipes in your home are at a higher risk of bursting. Keep the water pressure in your home between 30 – 50 PSI to prevent damage.
Even if you’ve added insulation to the water lines in your home, they are still able to burst if they are corroded. All types of water lines have a lifespan that is dependent on the material, water usage patterns, and surrounding climate. Pipe corrosion is also caused high pH levels in water. High pH levels and hard water will cause corrosion in galvanized iron pipes over time and lead to lead poisoning.
What Types of Pipes Are Able to Freeze?
Many homes have exposed pipes that are likely to suffer from cold temperatures. Pipes that are in the most danger of freezing and breaking are:
- Swimming pool lines
- Water sprinkler lines
- Hose bibs
- Water supply lines for a home, workshop, and barns
- Pipes running along exterior walls
- Pipes under kitchen and bathroom cabinets
- Pipes that are in crawl spaces and attics
When a pipe breaks, homeowners are left scrambling to get it fixed. This means they will likely need to use an emergency plumber that they trust, like Fenwick Home Services. By following the suggestions of professional plumbers, homeowners can do their part to avoid costly pipe repairs.
Signs of Broken or Frozen Pipes
If you smell a musty smell in your home, this is a sign of a frozen water or sewage pipe. Once a sewage pipe breaks, bacteria is able to leak into the surrounding area and cause bad odors. Immediately schedule a sewer line repair or installation appointment with our team.
If the drywall in your home is discolored or wet, this is an indicator of a broken frozen pipe. Since a broken supply line is not able to regulate the water supply, it is able to travel to the surrounding drywall and cause damage. If this issue is not resolved immediately by a professional plumber, mold and mildew will form over time throughout the exposed area.
Puddles of Water
If you notice puddles of water in your basement or near the kitchen sink, this may be caused by a frozen pipe. To confirm if the pipe beneath the sink is broken, we recommend opening your cabinet and examining the surrounding plumbing system. Excess water in the basement may also be a sign of a malfunctioning sump pump. It may be hard to find a broken pipe or plumbing issue in your basement if its behind a drywall or under the flooring. Turn off the water supply and contact a professional plumber in your area.
High Water Bills
A subtle indicator of a frozen and leaking pipe is a high water bill. If a water supply line behind your wall is leaking water, this will cause an excess amount of water to be wasted throughout the day. Contact a member of our plumbing team to get your pipes examined.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you have a frozen pipe in your house, there are various ways to thaw the pipe and restore the water flow in your home. Prior to thawing your water supply lines, you will need to deactivate the water supply. After the water supply is turned off, grab a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the frozen water supply line in the affected area. Contact a professional technician of you are unable to restore the water flow in your home.
Reliable Water Line Repair & Installation Services
If you have a broken pipe in your home, give our team a call by phone at 904-217-5694 or schedule an appointment online. Our team of plumbers offer plumbing repair and installation services such as repiping, gas line repair, and water heater installation, in Jacksonville, Florida and other areas.