Prevent frozen pipes during a cold spell
The weather forecast for North Texas in winter will start with temperatures in the mid to high 70s, but it won’t take long for the temperature to drop. Soon, we could see record-low temperatures, a hard freeze, ice storms or more. When the temperatures drop, certain pipes, especially outdoor pipes, pipes in unheated areas, areas with little insulation, are all at risk of freezing. And frozen pipes may add up to major water leaks and damage.
To protect your plumbing and prevent your pipes from freezing before the cold weather hits, you need to prepare before it gets cold. First, we need to ensure that all of the exposed pipes, both hot and cold lines, are properly insulated, especially those in unheated areas of your home. Don’t forget those in the attic or basement as well as those in the garage. Also, insulate the pipes under kitchen or bathroom cabinets. You can buy supplies from the hardware store and do it yourself or hire the services of a plumber. Insulating the pipes will also lower your energy costs, since less heat will be lost to the environment from your hot water pipes.
Other ideas to prevent freezing pipes are:
- Drain water from the swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines. Don’t put any chemicals or antifreeze in these lines. It is harmful to the environment and dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife and landscaping.
- Remove, drain and store water hoses and cover the outside faucets with an insulated cover.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines there.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate. Keep a steady temperature of at least 50 degrees inside your home. This ensures that your house stays warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.
- When the weather is very cold or you are going to be away overnight, allow cold water to drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes, such as the bathtub faucet. Water doesn’t freeze as easily if it’s running.
- If you plan on being away from home for a few days, turn off the water completely at the valve where you water enters the house. If a pipe does freeze and break, you won’t be coming home to a flooded home and thousands of dollars in damage. After shutting off the main valve, turn on all the taps and flush toilets to drain the pipes completely.
- Fix any damaged or leaking pipes. If a pipe does freeze, leaking or damaged pipes are more likely to burst. Inspect your pipes before cold weather arrives and check for any leaks. Only a professional plumbing contractor will be able to repair your damaged pipes. A yearly plumbing inspection can prevent damage and unexpected repairs.
If your pipes do freeze, try these tips:
- Keep the faucet open on the pipe that has frozen. As the frozen area begins to thaw, water will begin to flow again. Running water through the pipe will help to melt the ice further.
- Apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe by using an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, or a portable space heater. Do not use an intense heat source, like a blowtorch or any open flame device to heat the pipe. Heating the pipe too quickly can damage the pipe and create a weak point. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you can’t locate the frozen area or it’s not accessible, call a licensed plumber.
- If one pipe freezes, check other faucets to see if other pipes have frozen as well.
Burst Pipes And Leak Repairs
When water freezes it expands, which creates pressure within a pipe as the liquid water turns to ice. As the pressure increases, it puts a huge strain on the pipe and can cause it to burst. Water will continue to flow out of the break until the water supply is shut off. When a pipe bursts, you’ll have to clean up the mess, pay for an emergency plumbing service call, and make repairs to your home.
When a frozen pipe bursts, you should immediately shut off the water supply. Everyone living in your house should know where the valve is located and how the vale operates. Next, you should call a plumber for immediate repairs. You should avoid the flooded area and be cautious of your electrical system. If you suspect a problem, you should turn off the electricity at your main fuse box. Your next call after the plumber arrives should be to a professional cleaning and restoration company to clean up the mess and dry out the damaged area. You may also need to have your foundation inspected to prevent further damage.