How to Avoid Frozen Water Pipes

September 27th, 2020 by admin Leave a reply »

In winter months, the water pipes in drafty or unheated areas of your home may be subject to freezing. Cold temperatures along with windy conditions accelerate the freezing process. Pipes can freeze and thaw or worse: freeze, split, thaw and spray, sending out an uncontrolled stream of water that can do sever damage to a home. Water damage is the most common and most expensive insurance claim. So be proactive, and wherever possible relocate pipes that are subject to freezing to warmer areas of the house.

What may surprise many is the fact that hot water pipes will generally freeze sooner than cold water pipes. So, include both when considering the best solution. Here are several things you can do to help avoid frozen pipes:

o INSTALL PIPE INSULATION – It’s a good practice to insulate water lines of outside walls, and in floors or ceilings that are exposed to the outside.

o WINTERIZE OUTSIDE SPIGOTS – Start by shutting off any exterior spigots from inside the house. Then, open them from the outside and let any residual water drain. And be sure to disconnect your garden hoses from any exterior spigots to prevent them from splitting and cracking.

o TRY THE TRICKLE SOLUTION – In areas of the home where pipes may regularly freeze, turn the faucet on to create a slow, steady trickle of water. The constant flow of water through the pipes will prevent them from becoming frozen.

o INSTALL A RECIRCULATING PUMP – Another creative way to keep freeze-prone pipes flowing is by installing a hot water recirculating pump. This type of pump pushes cold water out the hot pipe until it senses hot water. Then it stops and starts the cycle again to keep the water moving.

o HEAT TAPE – In some instances homeowners may choose heat tape or an electric wire heater to keep pipes warm. However, these types of solutions can lead to problems should the system itself or the power source fail. This can also present a fire hazard if used with the wrong insulation.

On the occasions when Mother Nature brings sub-zero temperatures to your neighborhood and frozen pipes occur; they can be thawed by several methods:

o The safest method is to use an electric hair dryer to apply heat directly to the frozen area of pipe.

o Pipes that run through a garage to a hose spigot can be drained or blown out with a compressor.

o Pipe thawing machines will work well in many applications. This device uses cables similar to car jumper cables. They attach to the pipe on either side of an ice block enabling an electrical current to pass through the pipe and heat it, thawing the ice.

Copper pipes often split, however plastic PEX lines may freeze, expand and thaw without splitting. If your pipes freeze, make sure you know where the main shut off valve is. If you have to leave the house it’s wise to shut the water off, or risk coming home to a “sprinkler system” going in the house.

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