Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Winters

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Frozen pipes can affect any property, and all it takes is one cold snap, no matter where you live or what kind of house you have. That could cause a flood that will destroy your entire property. It’s a prevalent reason for damaged homes, but the good news is that there are tips to prevent frozen pipes in winters.

If you want to avoid dealing with frozen pipes when the temperature outside drops below freezing, learn how to implement some preventative measures now. In this article, discover a few easy tips that will keep your pipes from freezing and your water flowing over the winter.

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

There are a few things property owners should know about property care in the winter. One major problem that can arise as temperatures drop is water pipes freezing. Reasons frozen pipes make up a significant risk include the following:

1. Lack of running water

The most apparent risk associated with a frozen pipe is the inability to use flowing water. It can make it challenging to carry out simple activities like washing the dishes and other duties. 

2. Potential to burst

The second problem that can occur from frozen pipes is the actual bursting of the pipe. When the water inside a pipe freezes, the pressure between the closed faucet and the blockage can become too great, eventually causing the pipe to burst.

Pipes That Are Susceptible to Freeze

When temperatures drop, some pipes are more likely to burst than others. Pipes in these areas are the most susceptible to freezing during winter.

Exterior Walls

Pipes that carry water into the house but are on an exterior wall are at risk of freezing during the winter. They might not have enough insulation to withstand the cold weather outside.

Basements and Attic vents

Pipes that run through unheated spaces like basements and attics are also more likely to freeze. These pipes don’t get enough heat to the same extent as the rest of the house. 

Also, lack of proper insulation if residents are not using these rooms as part of their primary living quarters.

Climates in the South

Pipes in areas that rarely see freezing temperatures are at risk of freezing and bursting. That’s because the pipes don’t get insulated well. 

The water pipes in these places are more likely to be in unheated spaces because 32℉ or lower temperatures are uncommon.

Frozen Pipe Warning Signs

You can tell whether your pipes have frozen because of a few potential signs.

1. Frost covers the pipes

Pipes in plain sight, such as those in the ceiling or wall above a sink, may have frost buildup on their exteriors. Even before you try to turn on the water, this may signify that the pipe has frozen.

2. No water is coming out of the faucet

A lack of running water is another symptom of frozen pipes. A frozen water line can cause a kitchen or bathroom faucet to drip.

3. Conditions are ideal

If the temperature outside is not low enough, the pipes will not freeze. Pipes and water don’t freeze when the temperature outside is 60 ℉. When the temperature drops below 32 ℉ or lower, start taking measures to protect any exposed pipes from freezing.

4. Odd smell

The presence of an unusual smell when using the sink or shower could result from a frozen pipe. If the pipe becomes clogged in any manner, the smell will rise upward toward the house.

Precautions to Take to Prevent Pipe Freezing In Winter

If you pay attention to the National Weather Service or your local weather reporter, you’ll know when the temperature will drop into the danger zone. When the temperature outside lowers, it’s essential to take a few simple precautions to keep your pipes from freezing.

Outside the House

1. Unhook garden hoses

Disconnect, drain, and store your hoses when you’ve finished for the season tending to your garden. Turn off the water supply to the hose bibs outside and open the faucet to flush the system.

Throughout the winter, keep it open to let any water inside the pipe room to expand. You should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for draining water from sprinkler supply lines.

2. Drain pool water and hoses outside

Pipes and hoses that supply water to outdoor swimming pools can freeze and explode during the winter.

Unplug your hoses from the faucets and drain them thoroughly to keep them in good condition. It also applies to sprinkler lines, as the water inside the rubber hoses will freeze and crack.

Drain your pool along with all lines that feed into the yard. Put a cover on the pool to prevent further damage.

Inside the House

1. Maintain a consistent temperature

Keep the house at a steady temperature all day and night by adjusting the thermostat. If the temperature outside is mild, turning down the thermostat at night or when you leave the house can help reduce heating bills.

However, keeping the temperature constant in freezing weather is essential for preventing the pipes from freezing. Also, ensure you set the thermostat to at least 55 ℉ if you are away from home during the winter.

2. Allow faucets to drip

A slow trickle of water running through the pipes can keep them from freezing. To prevent the pipes from freezing during extreme cold, allow a slow trickle of water to flow from all exterior faucets. 

If the water inside the pipes freezes, leaving a few taps flowing will release pressure inside the pipes and possibly prevent a burst.

3. Close up any air cracks

Check your home for holes that could let the chilly air in. Close any openings near the pipe beams or sill plates within or outside the house. 

Always keep the garage door closed unless you are entering or exiting because leaving it open is like generating a significant air leak.

4. Insulate your pipes

You can find pipe insulation at most hardware stores for a cheap price. If you have pipes in the attic, basement, crawl space, or garage, insulate them. The pipes that supply water to your kitchen and bathroom sinks in chilly weather could freeze.

So, you can insulate with foam to protect against chilly conditions. You can also keep pipes from freezing by wrapping them in heat tape or thermostatic heat wires.

Tips for Thawing Frozen Pipes

How can you know if the pipes have frozen? If you turn on the kitchen or bathroom faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, it could be because the water in the pipes has frozen. However, there is no need to freak out. If you have a frozen pipe, here is a quick way to get it unfrozen.

Step 1: Open the faucet

Run it continuously. If you let the faucet drip, you reduce the risk of a burst pipe. An open faucet reduces this pressure buildup, preventing a rupture.

Step 2: Warm up the frozen region

Apply heat gradually, using a hair dryer. You can accomplish this in several ways. The alternative is to use an external heat source, like a space heater or thermostatically controlled heat tape, to warm the pipes. 

Never use a propane torch or kerosene to avoid damaging the pipe and increasing the fire risk.

If you opt to use a hair dryer, start blowing air near the faucet end of the pipe and gradually work your way toward the coldest area. Ensure the hair dryer doesn’t become too hot and burn out the fuse. When applying heat, remember to leave the faucet running.

Step 3: Maintain the heat

You shouldn’t turn off the heater until the full water pressure is back. After the pipe has thawed, leave the faucet open for a while. With this buffer, the ice can melt away from the pipe.

Step 4: Inspect all faucets to avoid future pipe freezing

Look under every sink for signs of frozen pipes. When one pipe freezes, it’s likely that others have as well. Call a plumber if the situation persists.

How Long Do Frozen Pipes Take To Thaw?

There are a few ways to defrost frozen pipes, but they take around 30 minutes. However, that could change depending on the temperature, the time the pipe has frozen, and its location. So, any of these can lengthen the time it takes for a pipe to thaw out.

Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

In the winter, frozen pipes are a real threat you can avoid with the proper measures. The tips above can help prevent significant frozen pipes or water damage throughout the winter.

If you live in the Toledo area and your home has a leaking or frozen pipe that needs immediate repair, AAA standard services are available to help you. Contact us today!

Resources

https://www.npr.org/2022/12/28/1145761937/a-deep-freeze-is-breaking-pipes-and-creating-a-water-crisis-across-the-south

https://www.montclairnjusa.org/news/why_pipe_freezing_is_a_problem

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes.html#:~:text=When%20the%20weather%20is%20very,helps%20prevent%20pipes%20from%20freezing.

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/maintenance-repair/how-to-prevent-frozen-pipes/

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