Why do frozen pipes burst?
With the arrival of the cold winter weather, water in your pipes could freeze. Because water expands when it freezes, it exerts great pressure on the walls of your pipes, which could result in the pipes bursting – with disastrous results!
Can I take preventative action to avoid frozen and burst pipes?
There are a number of simple steps you should take before winter sets in.
1 – Make sure that members of the family know where the main water valve to the house is located, so that it can quickly be shut off in an emergency.
2 – When temperatures start dropping, avoid turning your thermostat down too low at night. Icy outdoor temperatures could cause your pipes to freeze if the heat is set too low.
3 – Go around the house, and check whether the pipes in the least heated and most exposed areas are sufficiently insulated. Crawl spaces and attics are often the most vulnerable, as are pipes along exterior walls. Check outside the house too, including the garage. Exterior pipes are obviously at a greater risk of freezing.
4 – Make sure vulnerable pipes are properly insulated. Suitable materials to wrap your pipes are readily available at home supply stores, who can advise you on how to apply them.
5 – Seal any openings that allow cold outside air to enter the house. Make sure to caulk openings around vents and pipes that pass through external walls. A tiny amount of cold air getting in could easily freeze nearby pipes.
6 – Make sure that internal ventilation in the home allows your heating to reach the rooms and areas where pipes are at risk.
7 – Allowing water to trickle gently from several faucets at night keeps the stream of water moving, and could help to prevent freezing.
8 – Drain the water from outdoor faucets and hoses, and isolate the supply of water to them from inside the house, if possible.
9 – If the house is going to be vacant during the winter, make sure to set the thermostat to a suitable temperature, no lower than 55° F
10 – Arrange to leave a key and a contact number with a trusted neighbor or friend when you are away in case an emergency should arise.
What action should I take if the pipes freeze and there is no water coming out the faucets?
It is quite possible for pipes to freeze without bursting, but you should still take immediate action.
1 – Call in your professional plumber as soon as possible to assess the situation.
2 – Leave the faucets turned on.
3 – Do not under any circumstances try and thaw out a frozen pipe with a blow torch or any other open flame.
4 – At the most, try using a hair dryer to warm the pipe near the faucet and then work backwards down the pipe towards the frozen section.
What if frozen pipes have already burst?
1 – Don’t panic!
2 – First thing is to locate and turn off the main water valve.
3 – If the house is already flooding, call 911.
4 – Avoid standing in the water, and do not touch any plugged in electrical items or appliances.
Prevention is always better than cure.
The damage resulting from burst or frozen pipes can be disastrous, causing tremendous inconvenience. Water damage and repairs can run to thousands of dollars, and all this can be prevented with a little care and planning. With winter around the corner, it’s a great idea to call in your professional plumbing contractor now to check your premises and advise you on any maintenance that needs to be done. Do it now and relax in the knowledge that your home and family are protected against these issues.