The Why, How and What to do About Freezing Pipes
Freezing plumbing systems are a costly and difficult home repair hassle that can happen to any house that is in a place where the temperature drops below the freezing point.
Exposed pipes, uninsulated or under insulated pipes and outdoor pipes are all at risk for freezing when the temperature drops. As the overall temperature goes down, the still water inside the pipes begins to freeze.
As it does so, the water area expands, expressing an outward force against the sides of the pipes. If the stress of the force on the pipes is too great, it can cause the pipes to crack, causing serious water damage to your home once the ice thaws, leaving you with an expensive repair bill.
Checking to see that the insulation of your indoor plumbing in your garage, attic, basement and under cabinets is sufficient, and adding insulating pipe sleeves where it isn’t, is a good first step in preventing frozen pipes. Draining out your pool, hoses, and sprinklers is another good step.
How Can I Prevent This?
Shutting off all the water to outdoor spigots at the water supply end and keep the outside vale open so the remaining water has room to expand helps too. Also keep your indoor temperature at 55 degrees or above, even when you’re not home and keep your garage closed.
If you are unable to sufficiently insulate your indoor pipes, or the temperature drop is extreme, leaving a faucet dripping, as it’s harder for moving water to freeze.
A drop in the normal water pressure levels or even a total lack of water can indicate frozen pipes. If your pipes do freeze, the exercise good caution when attempting to thaw them.
Once you are able to track down the frozen area, opening the taps then using heating pads or a hairdryer on them until the ice is melted is a safe way to handle the problem.
Under no circumstances should any methods involving fire or combustibles ever be used! In the event that your pipes freeze, even if you thaw them out afterwards, always contact a licensed plumber to check on the safety of the system.
They’ll look for further areas that may have frozen as well as inspect your plumbing system for cracks in the pipes too. The small cost of hiring a plumber is worth avoiding the massive cost and inconvenience of water damage to your home.