Winter’s bitter cold is more than an inconvenience – it can be damaging. An extended period of below freezing temperatures can freeze water pipes in your home. A frozen pipe can burst, causing thousands of dollars in damage. Preventing pipes from freezing can save you from a disaster.
Why Pipes Burst
According to the Family Handyman, when water freezes, its volume expands by about 9%. It expands with tremendous force – the pressure inside a pipe can go from 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000. Imagine, water expanding by that much inside a small, copper pipe. The force is just too great for any pipe to withstand.
Symptoms of a Frozen Pipe
Typically, pipes in the basement, crawl space or those that run in exterior walls are prone to freezing. The first sign that a pipe may be freezing up is a reduced flow out of the faucet. If the weather has been very cold for a few or more days and the water just trickles from the faucet, you need to take action.
Here are some steps you can take as recommended by the Family Handyman:
- Turn up the heat in your home
- Set up fans to blow heat in cold rooms
- Open cabinet or vanity doors so warm air can reach the pipes under sinks
- If you have exposed pipes in closest or pantries, leave doors open
Frozen Pipe Solutions
If the pipes are completely frozen and no water is coming out, use a hair dryer to thaw the pipe. Leave the faucet completely open as you attempt to thaw the pipe so the water can flow. Do not use a blow torch or any type of flame. The safest bet is to call a licensed plumber.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
- During a cold snap, let the water trickle or drip from faucets. A constant flow helps prevent freezing.
- Insulate crawl spaces, basements and walls where the pipes are located.
- Replace outdoor faucets with frost-proof models.
- Wrap an electric heating cable around vulnerable pipes. A thermostat will switch on when the temperature reaches a certain degree.
- Keep cabinet and vanity doors open under sinks to allow heat from the home help warm the pipes.
- Seal cracks and holes around pipes to prevent cold air from getting in.
Should a pipe burst and cause flood damage in your home, your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs up to the limits of your policy.
If you would like to be sure you have correct coverages, call me to schedule a free insurance review!