Frozen Pipes Are A Big Problem That Can Be Prevented.
A frozen water pipe with a crack as small as 1/8 of an inch can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and potentially mold. Research conducted at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety® tells us that 37% of all pipe failures occur in the basement and can result in more than $5,000 in property damage.
Here are a few steps you can take to keep both your plastic and copper pipes warm and water running.
Alleviating The Problem
Ideally, it is best not to expose water pipes to subfreezing temperatures. Vulnerable pipes that are accessible should be fitted with insulation sleeves or wrapping (which slows the heat transfer), the more insulation the better. Plumbing supply stores and insulation dealers carry pipe sleeves that feature extra-thick insulation, as much as 1 or 2
inches thick. The added protection is worth the extra cost.
Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes.
It’s a good idea to keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to let the warm air circulate around the pipes. Especially if the plumbing is located on an exterior wall.
Used with extreme caustion, electric heating tapes and cables are available to run along pipes to keep the water from freezing. Tapes and cables with a built-in thermostat
will turn heat on when needed. These must be used with extreme caution; follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid the risk of fire, and check to make sure the product conforms to UL 2049.
Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable
to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing.
Want a Smart solution? Have a licensed plumber install a high-tech whole home leak protection solution. Wireless control systems are completely user configurable and customizable, send notifications to your phone, and shuts off the water when it detects a water leak. You can control your system with a smart phone and website, enabling you to change settings, anywhere, anytime. Some of the features include remote and automatic water shut off, and text and email alerts.
When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55°F. The best safeguard is to drain the water system. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running.
If You Suspect A Frozen Pipe
If you open a faucet and only a trickle comes out or no water comes out at all, you may well have a frozen pipe, don’t take any chances. Call a licensed plumber.
Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve, usually located at the water meter or where the main line enters the house and leave the water faucets turned on.
Don’t try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame as this will damage the pipe and may even start a building fire. You might be able to thaw a pipe with a handheld
hair dryer, electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or a portable space heater. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house and leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Some of the steps experts recommend may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, but the extra expense is nothing compared with a hefty repair bill.
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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with All American Sewer Service Inc.. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative measure or solution. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. All American Sewer Service Inc. makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.