How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
With winter weather setting in across many parts of the U.S., homeowners need to be aware of the risks associated with frozen pipes.
When temperatures start to drop, all it takes to determine the risk for frozen pipes is a quick inspection, some research and a few DIY fixes.
Taking proactive measures to prevent freezing pipes is just one way to winterize your home, but it's also one of the most important. Check out these hints and tips to help avoid the costly damage associated with frozen pipes.
Why are frozen pipes a big problem?
A frozen water pipe may not sound like a big deal, but the problems that arise as a result can be quite serious.
It’s a fact that frozen pipes can burst, spilling massive amounts of water in short periods of time unless the appropriate valve is shut off. Unfortunately, most frozen pipes occur in hidden parts of the home, so you may be unaware of a burst pipe for a few hours or more. When this happens, the water damage can be severe - and costly to deal with.
A burst pipe can also negatively affect the rest of your home's water supply, and lead to a lack of running water altogether.
How can you prevent frozen pipes?
If you've never dealt with a frozen pipe before, you might not know where to begin your inspection. It's wise to start in the basement, where pipes are often uninsulated, and then check the areas of your home where pipes are similarly exposed or areas that are unheated. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, that can include your garage, attic, and along outside walls. Don't forget to check any exposed pipes under your sink as the air starts to turn frigid, as they could be more susceptible to freezing.
It's important to make sure heated air flows evenly throughout your home, so keeping doors open whenever possible is another smart, preventive step.
During your inspection, if you locate exposed pipes in an area where drops in temperature could affect them, there's a relatively easy DIY fix for the problem. Most hardware stores sell insulating fiberglass tubes and insulating spray, at low costs. These products can be applied easily with little to no previous experience.
To help keep pipes working without issue, check that your home's heat never dips below freezing. Setting a thermostat at a minimum temperature (such as 55 degrees) is a good idea.
In extreme situations - if your heat isn’t working, for example - you can also run your faucets on a drip, so water is constantly flowing through the pipes. This action prevents pipes from freezing and potentially bursting. This preventive tip can be used on any pipe in danger of freezing during colder temperatures.
How can you thaw frozen pipes?
If you find your prevention efforts have been in vain, there are simple ways to thaw frozen pipes as well. It is relatively easy to determine if, and where, pipes are frozen. Faucets that won't run and/or noticeable frost are two signs you're experiencing frozen pipes. Allstate recommends basic home remedies including heating the affected pipe with a space heater or blow dryer. You can also wrap frozen pipes in towels soaked in hot water to thaw them.
In some cases, frozen pipes may be located behind walls, in which case a heavy-duty space heater will help get the job done. Please use caution when using a space heater as it can be dangerous if not used properly.
The damage associated with a burst pipe can be costly, so cover your bases by enrolling in a home plumbing repair plan before you might have a problem. To learn more about HomeServe repair plans available in your area, enter your ZIP code here.