Preventing Bursting Pipes
While we have had unseasonably warm temperatures, being prepared for freezing temperatures may help you to avoid a messy and expensive situation if your pipes burst. Floors to Ceiling Restoration has compiled these tips to help you take preventative action to prevent damage to your home and what to do if freezing does occur:
Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water expands when frozen and this expansion exerts pressure on pipes – both metal and plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, attics, garages, or even kitchen cabinets. This is because pipes that run against exterior walls have little or no insulation, and thus are subject to freezing.
You can prevent these pipes from freezing by:
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines by following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Drain water from outside hose bibs and turn inside valves to off. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in crawl spaces, attics, garages, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- If these pipes are not insulated, consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on uninsulated water pipes. You can also use newspaper in a pinch, as it can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action
- Keep your garage door closed if there are water supply lines located in your garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let your pipes drip in order to prevent freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. This may raise your heating bill, but you will save a more costly repair if your pipes burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on your faucet and only a trickle comes out, you should suspect a frozen pipe.
- Be sure to keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- You can apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, are unable to access the frozen area, or if you cannot successfully thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Be sure check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
While we hope you never experience water damage from freezing pipes, if your home or business has water damage, be sure to call Floors to Ceiling Restoration to repair and restore your property back to its original condition. Our experienced team of technicians has the expertise to quickly get your property cleaned up and restored. We are industry-educated, experienced and equipped to handle large water damage restoration projects in Dallas, Texas and the surrounding areas.