Water pipes can freeze in cold temperatures. When water freezes in a pipe, it creates a lot of pressure inside the pipe, which can cause it to burst and cause major flooding, especially if no one is there to cut off the water.
The pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, attics, and garages are the most vulnerable. However, pipes that go through cupboards or outside walls can also freeze. The good thing is that there are a few easy things you can take to keep your water on and your house dry.
This blog post is a complete guide on preventing pipes from freezing, what to do if you fear that your pipes have entirely frozen or even just a small bit of ice in them, and how to thaw frozen pipes.
Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing
- Allowing the cold water to trickle from any faucets serviced by exposed pipes will prevent freezing. The steady flow of water from running water keeps the pipes from freezing anyway.
- Drain the water from the pool and sprinkler supply lines according to the manufacturer’s or installer’s instructions. Unless otherwise specified, do not use antifreeze in these lines. Antifreeze is damaging to the environment, humans, pets, wildlife, and gardening.
- Maintain a temperature in your home of at least 21 degrees Celsius, especially during periods of intense cold. Many of us set the thermostat down at night to save energy, but this is best avoided when really low temperatures are predicted.
- Although no part of your home’s plumbing should be exposed to below-freezing temperatures, water pipes must occasionally pass through unheated areas. Fortunately, adding insulationto your home’s structure in these areas or directly to pipes can make a significant difference.
- Seal any cracks in the house that could let cold air in, especially where pipes run from inside your home to outside, such as dryer vents or water pipes. You can fill the gaps with caulk or spray foam insulation.
- Hoses that have been used outside should be removed, drained, and stored. Close the internal valves that supply the hose bibs outside. Allow water to drain by opening the outside hose bibs. Keep the external valve open to allow any remaining water in the pipe to expand without bursting it.
- Keep the garage door closed as much as possible if you have any water supply lines in the garage that aren’t insulated. This will also assist in keeping the heat inside the house and lowering your heating energy expenditures.
How to Safely Thaw Frozen Pipes
- To thaw a frozen pipe, you need to figure out which pipe or pipes are frozen. Turn on the water faucets in your home. If no water or only a trickle emerges from the tap, the pipe leading to it is most likely frozen. If one pipe freezes, there’s a good risk that others will as well.
- All you have to do is shut off the main water supply valve once you’ve identified and confirmed the frozen pipe. Now open all of your home’s tub spouts and sink faucets to empty any remaining water in the system. Return to the frozen pipe with a mop, bucket, and two or three towels you don’t mind trashing.
- Use an electric heating pad and wrap it around the pipe. You can also wrap it around an electric hair dryer or a mini space heater. Or, you can use wrap pipes in hot water-soaked cloths to apply heat to the portion of the pipe. Heat the pipe until the water pressure is restored to its original level.
Call a professional if you cannot detect the frozen region, if the frozen location is inaccessible, or if you are unable to thaw the pipe.
What You Should Do If a Pipe Bursts
If you walk into your basement and discover a burst pipe, the first thing you should do is turn off the main water supply to avoid flooding. After that, contact a licensed plumbing contractor.
Remove as much water as possible with mops, sponges, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum as soon as feasible. Run a dehumidifier in the space until it’s completely dry to avoid mold, mildew, and other moisture-related issues.
If you notice noticeable cracks or splits in your pipes, turn off the water until the pipes can be replaced to avoid property damage. Remember that just because it isn’t leaking right now doesn’t mean it wouldn’t burst: One of the more frightening aspects of frozen pipes is that the water within can seal leaks and go undetected until the pipes thaw.