Winter is lovely as long as you have water, heat, and power in your home. Winter becomes a problem when a frozen pipe obstructs the flow of water through your home. Not only do you lack water in your house but a frozen pipe can burst, causing property damage and flooding.
It is best to prevent your exposed pipes from freezing during a cold snap or prolonged cold weather. If your pipes do freeze, you must thaw them to allow the water to flow again. If you can’t locate where the ice blockage has occurred, you should contact a licensed plumber.
Preventing frozen pipes takes a little bit of preparation in the fall and winter but doing so as part of winter-proofing your home is well worth it to ensure the comfort and safety of your home.
What’s a Frozen Pipe?
A frozen pipe means that water has frozen inside it. As frozen water expands, it blocks the passage of running water at a particular section of the pipe resulting in no running water.
How Does a Pipe Freeze?
Water freezes when it’s cold outside. Homeowners should be careful when outside temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit as this is when pipes start freezing. Freezing depends on the location of the pipe, its exposure—northern exposure means colder temperatures—the prevailing wind, and the elements in general.
Even cold wind can freeze a pipe when it is uninsulated and exposed, so don’t dismiss it.
Where Do We Find Frozen Pipes?
Most accidents due to frozen pipes happen in basements, garages, attics, crawl spaces, around the swimming pool, or in exposed areas of your home where pipes run. That includes even kitchen cabinets: if your kitchen or bathroom cabinets get too cold, the pipes there can eventually freeze.
What’s the Problem with a Frozen Pipe?
The first obvious problem is that water freezes, there is an ice blockage, and your home doesn’t have running water.
A more important problem is that a frozen pipe can burst a pipe due to the pressure from the ice. When water freezes, it expands and applies pressure to the pipe. Water pipes are not usually made from flexible materials and can break when ice forms. A broken pipe will cause flooding. You then need to repair the pipe and fix the water damage on floors, cabinets, and walls.
How Do I Know a Pipe Is Frozen?
The easiest test is when you turn on the tap and no water comes out. This signifies an ice blockage in your pipe that stops the water from flowing freely.
Sometimes you might also get unpleasant smells coming from the drain or faucet. The ice blockage doesn’t allow smells to go down the drain and their only way is back up toward the house again.
How Can I Prevent a Frozen Pipe?
Prevention is always better than repair. It can cost you significantly more if a frozen pipe bursts in your home. You will have to call a restoration company to repair the damage and fix your pipes. It is always best when homeowners avoid damage to their homes!
Insulate Your Exposed Pipes
The most efficient way to prevent frozen pipes is to insulate them, especially those that are exposed in your garage, attic, basement, crawl space, and outside. If you have pipes that get very cold behind your kitchen cabinets, insulate those as well. Insulation will keep the inside of the pipe at above-freezing temperatures and water will flow.
Let Your Faucet Drip
If you have an exposed pipe, you can let the faucet that is linked to this pipe drip a little when the weather is very cold. Running water is more difficult to freeze than standing water.
Close Your Garage Door
Your garage is cold. Don’t make it colder yet by leaving the door open. Even small temperature increases can make the difference between a frozen pipe and one that flows freely.
Keep Your Home Warm
You obviously like it to be nice and cozy at home in winter. However, some homeowners choose to lower the indoor temperature at night or when they leave their homes for work or for an extended period of time. You should keep your home temperature constant to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Seal Your Home Walls
If you have cracks in your walls or around windows and doors, seal them in the fall to prevent cold air from coming inside. This is particularly helpful in areas that are cold anyway like your basement or garage. There is no need to add frigid air to an already cold room.
Insulate Your Crawl Space
Insulate your crawl space by closing the vents to prevent cold air from coming in. Even temporary insulation can do the trick.
What Do I Do If My Water Pipes Are Frozen?
If your water pipes freeze, you will have to thaw them. Do not use anything with an open flame because you risk damaging your pipes or causing an accident. Instead, use an electric heating pad, hairdryer, portable space heater, or even a towel soaked in hot water that you renew frequently.
Once the pipe is thawed, you should have full pressure on your faucets. You will need to check carefully to see if the pipe has already burst: sometimes, the pipe bursts further down the line from the ice blockage.
Valley Restoration and Construction
Should you need help repairing burst pipes or restoring your home after water damage, contact us at 970-964-4437 or contact Valley Restoration and Construction online. We are available 24/7 and will be there right away to restore your home.