Water pipes that freeze are a common problem in cold weather. They can lead to a burst pipe that leaks water and causes extensive water damage in your home and potentially costly repairs.
According to PlumbSmart Plumbing Heating and Air, frozen pipes are caused by three main things: Quick drops in outside temperatures, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent and thaw frozen pipes.
Whether you live in a mild or cold climate, freezing and bursting water pipes are one of the worst things that can happen to your home during winter. Getting frozen pipes fixed early can save you the cost of repairs and restore your home to its normal function.
Pipes in unheated areas, like basements and attics, are particularly at risk. Insulation is a good solution for these pipes and can prevent freezing and bursting.
You may also consider wrapping your pipes with heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables. These are available at home improvement stores and can keep the pipes warm enough to prevent freezing and bursting.
It is important to remember that you should never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame, as this can be very dangerous and can cause extensive damage to the pipes. Use warm air from a hair dryer, the exhaust from a vacuum cleaner, a heat lamp, or heat tape to slowly thaw frozen pipes.
Once a frozen pipe has been thawed, it should be easy to run hot water through the pipe and into other faucets in the house. Then, be sure to turn up the temperature on the thermostat and check the pipe frequently to ensure it isn’t leaking or causing other problems.
When a frozen pipe bursts, the water can leak out of the walls and ceilings, leaving behind mold and mildew. This can cause serious damage to your belongings and the flooring and walls of the room.
During freezing weather, the pressure that water puts on frozen pipes can become too much to handle, leading to a pipe bursting. This can lead to a huge mess and a lot of money in repair costs.
If you notice that your pipes are leaking, it is vital to shut off the water at the source of the leak and call a plumber right away. This will help stop the water from leaking into your home and causing more damage to your pipes, your home, and your belongings.
It is also very important to find out why your pipes are leaking in the first place. Frozen pipes can be caused by several factors, including quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and a thermostat that is set too low.
The most important step you can take to prevent and thaw frozen pipes in the winter is to seal the leaks that let cold air in. This means identifying and sealing leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. It also includes checking your home’s foundation and exterior walls for openings that may allow cold air to enter.
Insulating pipes is another way to prevent pipes from freezing. This can be done by putting a layer of insulation over exposed plumbing lines in basements, crawl spaces, and attics. This is particularly necessary for the exposed water pipes that run through these areas, as the freezing temperatures can cause them to break.
Once you’ve sealed your pipes, the next step is to keep the temperature in your home consistent and not let it drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a great way to protect your pipes from freezing temperatures outside and will help maintain your home’s temperature during winter.
Cold air can get into your home through small gaps and cracks in exterior walls and door and window frames. If you have any of these types of openings, sealing them with foam caulk rope or expanding foam is a good idea.
Using caulk or expanding foam to seal these leaks will help stop chilly air from entering your home and keep your pipes from freezing. It’s also a good idea to seal all the other spaces in your home that might have air leaks, including around the bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that your home’s thermostat is set to a comfortable temperature that won’t drop below 55 degrees even when you are asleep or away from the house. This will also help to protect your pipes from the cold temperatures outside, as the warmer the home is, the less likely it is to freeze.
If you find that your pipes have already frozen and are unable to thaw them by yourself, it’s a good idea to call a plumber. A licensed plumber will be able to thaw your pipes for you and will be able to help you determine the exact location of the problem.
Turning Up the Thermostat
Keeping your home at a reasonable temperature during the winter is one of the most important things you can do to prevent and thaw frozen pipes. But it isn’t always easy or practical.
Even with good insulation and sealing, your home’s pipes can still freeze in the cold. This can cause the water inside them to expand and burst, causing a huge mess and hefty damage.
To help keep the air around your pipes warm, set your thermostat at a slightly higher temperature. This can be as high as 65 degrees, but you should also keep your furnace running as well.
This can help you keep your water pipes from freezing, especially if they’re located in areas that don’t have much insulation. For instance, pipes that run along outside walls or in crawl spaces don’t have much protection from the elements and can freeze if temperatures drop.
You should also look for any air leaks in your home that could allow cold air into the interior of your home. AAA says these are the most common places for pipes to freeze and should be sealed with insulation or caulk.
Another way to keep your home’s pipes from freezing is by opening cabinet doors underneath sinks and allowing the heat to reach those pipes. This is especially helpful if you’re traveling or away for an extended period of time.
Finally, letting a few drops of water trickle out of faucets can also help prevent and thaw frozen pipes during the winter. This won’t make the pipes completely frozen, but it will allow some of the water to drip off and thaw the rest, which helps the ice melt faster.
If your house doesn’t have a furnace or a malfunctioning furnace, you can use an electric space heater to keep the pipes in the garage and other unheated parts of your home from freezing. The heater can’t heat the entire space, but it will warm enough to prevent freezing and keep the water in the pipes from freezing.
If you can’t get the heater working properly or you’re on a budget, you may be able to keep your pipes from freezing by turning up the thermostat during the day and lowering it at night. This will allow you to save on energy costs while preventing costly repairs in the future if your pipes do freeze.
Calling a Plumber
Frozen pipes can be a serious problem during the winter, especially if they burst. This could cause water to leak into your home and result in significant damage. It can also lead to mold growth and other health issues requiring expensive repairs.
If you have frozen pipes in your home, it is important to call a plumber as soon as possible so they can thaw them quickly. Doing so will prevent damage to your home, and a professional can also advise you on how to best avoid having to deal with this issue in the future.
If you suspect a pipe may be freezing, you should first shut off the water at the main water valve in your home. Then, if you can find the frozen pipe section, use heat tape, a hair dryer, or a space heater to melt any ice.
Applying heat around the frozen pipe can help the ice melt and make water flow through it easier. Never attempt to thaw a pipe without a licensed plumber’s advice, though, as doing so could cause serious damage and a possible fire.
You should also inspect your pipes for signs of freezing. Typically, these include a drop in water pressure or strange gurgling noises coming from your plumbing.
Once you have identified the frozen pipe, wrap it in foam insulation if possible. The foam should have a self-sealing strip on it. This will prevent ice from getting trapped inside the insulation.
Insulating the pipe will also prevent the pipe from bursting, which can be a big issue in the cold. It can also save you money on heating bills and other energy costs during the winter.
A plumber can also help you prevent clogged pipes in the future. These can be caused by a variety of things, including small rodents, food waste, and toys. You can try a variety of methods to clear these, such as using a plunger or a sewer snake.
A good plumber will offer a warranty and be transparent about their fees. They will be happy to answer any questions you have and provide you with a quote for their work before they start working.