With the winter weather coming a bit early this year – the usual seasonal hardships are beginning to seep into our lives. It’s the snow, sleet, ice, flu and of course – freezing temperatures. It’s the temperature specifically that can be a pain for those of us in the HVAC world. Why? Because it creates a specific problem – frozen pipes.
Frozen pipes are typical, but sometimes major plumbing issues to face. When the weather gets cold and temperatures reach freezing, water in your home’s pipes can enlarge and freeze. This can lead to a whole myriad of issues – including leaks and large scale flooding.
Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about frozen pipes and some things that you can do to make sure you don’t have to deal with them. Let’s jump right in!
Is it frozen?
There are a variety of signs that point to frozen pipes. If the waterline is covered in frost, it’s a pretty good indicator that your pipes are frozen. While it seems like an obvious observation, the issue arises from the fact that not all pipes are visible or within sight – meaning a pipe could be frozen somewhere in the line and go somewhat undetected.
A sign that your pipes might be frozen could be when you turn on your sink or another faucet and water is either not running or flowing properly. Some toilets won’t flush or refill. If you see those signs, you’re probably in trouble.
What to do if pipes are frozen?
What you do about frozen pipes depends entirely on the existing damage. The first thing you’ll want to do regardless of what condition the pipe is in – is to shut off the electricity that powers the water supply. From there, you’ll want to try warming the frozen area on the pipe with heated water or packing towels. If these don’t work, it’s time to call a pro.
What you absolutely, 100% DO NOT want to do is use a blowtorch, kerosene, propane or anything else that uses an open frame. That folks – is a fire hazard.
If the pipe has already burst, start cleaning up if there’s flooding and simple water damage. If the damage is extensive, then it’s going to be time to call your insurance agent as most homeowners insurance policies will cover things like burst pipes.
How do I prevent pipe bursts?
There are more than a few things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing. We recommend the following:
• Keep your garage doors closed – especially if there are waterlines running through them.
• If you’re leaving your home for an extended period of time in the winter, leave your cabinet doors open so warmer air can circulate around pipes.
• Keep your thermostat at the same temperature in both the day and the night. By lessening the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you might have to pay more in heating, but the cost you’ll pay relative to dealing with the repairs incurred from a burst pipe is nothing.
• Always try to leave the heat on in your home in some way, shape or form. We advise that you should never lower it below 55 degrees.
If these tips aren’t helping you or you are dealing with frozen pipes this winter, we encourage you to give us a call! We can come by and give you a free consultation and help you avoid the costs associated with frozen pipes.