Cold winter months can wreak havoc on your pipes. They can cause your pipes to freeze and possibly burst. As water freezes, it expands, which exerts extra pressure on your pipes. This causes them to rupture. This rupture typically does not happen where the ice forms but somewhere further down the line. Here are some steps you can take to protect your pipes from freezing during the cold winter months.
Ways to Prevent Pipes from Freezing
The best way to protect your pipes from freezing is to keep them above freezing temperatures. It is relatively easy to keep your pipes warm during the winter months. You can accomplish it by doing a combination of the following tips.
Cover Crawl Spaces
Seal crawl spaces temporarily. Cut pieces of foam to the size of the vents. This minimizes the amount of cold air that enters and reduces the chances of your pipes freezing.
Use Heating Tape to Protect Exposed Pipes
Electrical heat tape for pipes will protect interior pipes and pipes in unheated spaces. Self-monitoring heating tape uses sensors to turn on only if the pipe needs heat. The manual heating tape must be plugged in and unplugged as needed.
Keep Your Garage Door Closed
Your home may have pipes that run through the garage. If you keep your garage door open during the winter, the cold air may freeze your pipes. It is best to keep the door closed.
Keep Your Cabinet Doors Open
If you open your bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors, warm air from your home will reach your pipes. This will help prevent your pipes from freezing.
Allow Faucets to Drip
If you have faucets connected to exposed pipes, allow them to drip with cold water. Even a little trickle of water going through the pipes prevents them from freezing.
Keep Your Thermostat on
If you feel that it is colder than normal, don’t try to save money by being cheap with your heating. Even if you are going to be away for several days, keep your thermostat at 50 degrees Fahrenheit when you are away.
How to Know If Your Pipes Are Frozen
You will know that your pipes are frozen if you turn on the tap and barely any water comes out. You can look at exposed pipes and see if they are covered with frost. Frosty pipes are typically evidence of frozen pipes. Additionally, if you smell bad odors coming up through the drains, it is an indication that the pipes are frozen or there is some ice blockage.
If your pipes freeze and burst, you are going to have to contact a plumber. However, if they are frozen but haven’t burst, you want to turn off the main water valve. Open your faucets so that water can start flowing through the pipe as the ice begins to melt. Use a space heater to heat the frozen section of the pipe. You can also use a hairdryer or an electronic heating pad.
You want to continue to apply heat until water pressure begins to flow normally. If one pipe in your house is frozen, there are likely problems in the other pipes. You want to do a thorough check of your plumbing network to make sure that there are no other frozen pipes.
Taking Other Preventative Measures
You may have a crawlspace or some other unheated space where pipes pass through. If you need additional heat, use a space heater to warm the room. It is not recommended that you use a space heater in a bathroom. However, if you truly need to use one in a bathroom, make sure that it is plugged into an outlet that has a ground fault circuit interrupter. Avoid using extension cords.
It is good to note that although water pipes burst more commonly in the winter, pipes can burst in warm weather as well. During the summer months, extreme temperatures and high demands of water can make pipes vulnerable. Regular maintenance is a must to prevent these problems.
No one wants to deal with expensive damage caused by a burst pipe. You can prevent burst pipes by taking preventative measures and keeping your pipes warm during the winter months.