All across the country, temperatures are dropping. The cool-down reminds us that now is the time to take steps to winterize pipes. Indoor plumbing systems work largely because of pressure. So the management of that pressure can prevent pipes from freezing.
When a pipe is surrounded by cold air, ice will grow. This growth occurs from the outside interior of the pipe until the entire pipe becomes blocked. Once the pipe is full of ice, the frozen water moves down the pipe. This movement increases the pressure within the pipe until the pipe breaks.
Tips for protecting pipes during a deep freeze:
Adding a thick layer of insulation around pipes can hold off freezing when temperatures drop into the 20s or below. Focus on insulating pipes in unheated areas of the home by using insulation tubes of fiberglass or polyethylene. Read the packaging to be sure you pick the right size tubing for the pipes, as you want a snug fit to prevent freezing cold air from contacting the plumbing.
As an added bonus, if you also insulate your hot water pipes, you can keep the water warmer, and lower your hot water heater temperature setting by a few degrees.
Drip drip drip
On very cold nights, consider running a faucet and any outside hoses in order to keep the water moving to relieve the pressure and prevent ice blockages. Choose a faucet that is as far away from the front of the house water supply as possible. This allows water to travel through as many of the pipes as possible to help regulate pressure.
You should also disconnect hoses as these frequently freeze and can cause ice to backup throughout the entire plumbing system.
Keep the heat consistent
While you don’t want to incur massive heating bills, you should heat the home at a consistent temperature during the day and night. If you turn down the thermostat by a few degrees at night, then you run the risk of a pipe freeze. When you are on vacation, you still want to heat the home to prevent possible freezes and ruptures. Don’t come back from a week in Mazatlán to a flooded home because you turned the heat off.
If you take some precautions and the pipes still freeze, then you should take a few steps to get them back in working order. You should keep the faucet open, so water can flow as the ice begins to melt. Another way to winterize is to apply heat through a heating pad or warm towels, but never use a blowtorch or propane heater to warm the pipes. Instead, utilize a portable electric heater under the house to encourage melting. Call a plumber if the ice doesn’t thaw or if the frozen pipes are inaccessible.
Fixing frozen pipes can be difficult, as it’s hard to determine exactly where ice is present. Older pipes are especially susceptible to breakage from freezing as they cannot handle the expansion and contraction. Talk to an experienced plumbing about pipe replacement and insulation options that can protect your home.
With us, you can expect upfront pricing; fast, free estimates; licensed, bonded and insured plumbers who are neat, polite, and well trained. We use state-of-the-art tools and equipment and are proud of the fact our services are free from hidden costs like travel charges. If you call JB Plumbing today, 24/7, you will speak directly to a plumber instead of a telephone answering service. At JB Plumbing, we are experts in residential and commercial plumbing as well as construction. Call today to schedule an appointment. (909) 593-2194.