Why are frozen pipes a problem in winter?
Well technically, they aren’t. It’s not the frozen pipes that are the problem, but the water inside those pipes. We all recall from science class that water expands as it freezes. This expansion prevents water flow and exerts tremendous pressure on your pipes when they freeze. No matter their size or strength, expanding water can cause your pipes to break, one of the worst nightmares for a homeowner.
Even scarier, they aren’t simply a cold weather problem. The homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because those pipes may not be properly insulated against such frigid temperatures.
The good news is that there are six easy steps you can take to help prevent this problem from occurring when the temperatures drop.
Tip #1: Keep the Heat On
If you’re leaving for an extended period of time, make sure to leave the heat on. This can sound like a tall order, given the high costs of home heating bills, but the heat can help prevent frozen pipes. If pipes freeze and burst, the potential damage to your property and possessions will trump a high gas bill.
The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were at home either, keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing.
Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip
Allowing the faucet to be open like this will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting. This is typically good for short-term fixes like overnight when the temperature lowers to freezing and you are still home. That way you can still turn them off during the day and limit your water usage.
Tip #3: Keep Inside Doors Open
Pipes are often located behind cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can help avoid frozen pipes. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home. Not only does is help with flow, but it can decrease your energy bill with the heating not having to work harder to heat isolated rooms and keep you from shifting the thermostat.
Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes
You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in. A simple project that can make a big difference!
Tip #5: Apply Heating Tape
There are two types of heating tape. One type of heating tape turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type of heating tape needs to be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use.
For pipes that are easily accessible, electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing and can be applied directly to the pipe. Like a space heater, however, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.
Tip #6: Add Extra Insulation
Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold though; if you have had a problem with frozen pipes anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the answer.
Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. This can be an easy solution for pipes that are exposed, but can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings should be opened in order to properly insulate the pipe. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Little Rock serves the greater Little Rock cities of Beebe, Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Conway, Jacksonville, Little Rock, Maumelle, North Little Rock, Searcy, Sherwood and surrounding areas with a team of certified plumbers. In addition to emergency plumbing repair, some of the plumbing services provided by the company include faucet repair, drain services, toilet repair, plumbing fixture installations, tub and shower installations, kitchen sink repair, faucet installation, water heater repair/replacement, and garbage disposal replacement. Call us today at (501) 241-4544 to schedule an appointment!