Preventing Frozen Pipes

Preventing Frozen Pipes

With winter just a few weeks away, you know that the frigid weather is coming as well. And just as we get cold, so too do the pipes in our house. If you have not experienced a broken pipe, you don’t want to. It is messy and expensive.

Before we provide some tips on preventing frozen pipes, you might be interested in knowing why pipes break. First, studies have demonstrated that the risk of pipes freezing and breaking usually begins when the outside temperature is 27 degrees F or colder. You might think it is the ice that forms around the pipes that breaks them. But it is not. What happens is that when the water in the pipes freezes it turns into ice, expanding (as we all learned in grade school). This increases pressure downstream – between the ice and the closed faucet at the end. This increased pressure causes the pipe to break, usually where little or no ice has formed.

Pipes especially vulnerable include those that are exposed to severe cold like sprinkler lines, swimming pool supply lines and pipes in unheated (or even heated) garages. Inside the house, the risk is higher with pipes in unneated interiors areas like basements, attics and behind kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against any exterior walls with little or no insulation are also prone to freezing.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

Here are a few simple tips.

1. Disconnect the hoses from any exterior faucets. For more information, click here.
2. If you are going out of town, do not set the thermostat below 6o degrees. We’re all energy conscious and want to do our part to conserve energy and save on heating bills, but setting the thermostat under 60 degrees increases the risk that the pipes will freeze, and that you will come home to a mess.
3. Open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom. Pipes that run behind these cabinets are frequently against uninsulated exterior walls. So opening the cabinet doors allows the warmer air from the home to circulate around the plumbing.
4. When the weather gets really cold, turn on your faucets and let the water trickle. Even a slow trickle can relieve pressure and prevent pipes from freezing.
5. If you are handy, you can insulate the pipes. There are numerous insulation kits available at hardware stores. The most common is a tubular foam that is slit lengthwise to slip over existing pipes.
6. If you are not handy, call us. We’re happy to help.

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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016