Nothing is as scary to a homeowner as having significant water damage in your home as a result of frozen and burst pipes.
While frozen pipes are potentially damaging to your home, they are also preventable. The best defense is understanding what causes frozen pipes and how to reduce the possibility of them occurring.
Why Does a Plumbing System Freeze?
Most plumbing systems use forced hot water to distribute heat throughout a home. A water boiler heats up water, this water is distributed through pipes with the use of a circulator pump, and the hot water releases heat through baseboard or through a radiator before returning to the hot water boiler.
A properly operating system should not freeze as hot water is well above the freeze point and the pipes are therefore protected from potential damage as a result.
There are numerous factors that can lead to your plumbing system freezing. Sometimes keeping your heat low can lead to frozen pipes if the weather is particularly cold and formidable. If your equipment is older it may be susceptible to becoming damaged and not operating effectively.
A common cause is a circulator pump bursting and stopping from distributing hot water through a system. When this occurs the water that is in the pipes will eventually freeze and then burst the pipe. The same is true when a water boiler is no longer effective.
Another cause that is common in older systems is air being trapped in the system. This was common in heating systems that have radiators associated with them.
These systems would require air to be bled from them for fear that air bubbles could build up and prevent the free flow of water through the system thereby leading to the system freezing.
How Can I Prevent This?
The easiest way to prevent frozen pipes is to have your heating system inspected by a licensed plumber before each heating season starts. They can inspect and replace old parts, point out recommended steps for your heating system, and provide recommendations for your system.
Why is It Important to Keep This From Happening?
When a pipe freezes the water that is in it expands which puts pressure on the pipes themselves. If the water is not moving through the pipes, then the water can cause the pipe to crack or split.
Once the pipes thaw and power to the system is restore water will leak from the pipes which can cause significant water damage to your home from flooding, mold, water and electrical damage, and even damage the structural stability of your home.