There are some positive things to look forward to when it comes to the winter season, like gathering around the fireplace and getting cozy in a nice, warm blanket. However, one of the major downsides that comes with a New England winter is frozen pipes, which can lead to burst pipes and damage your home. Before approaching the season, it is important to understand exactly where in your home pipe freezing may occur, how to prevent it from happening, and what measures should be taken when it occurs.
Pipes That Freeze Most Frequently
During the winter season, you’ll want to keep a special eye on your pipes that may be exposed to severe cold temperatures. However, just because some of your pipes may be in the interior of your home, doesn’t mean there isn’t a possibility that they’ll freeze. Frozen pipes can occur in unheated interior areas that have water supply lines, such as your basement, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and even kitchen cabinets. As water freezes, it expands and puts immense pressure on whatever type of pipe that is containing it. Despite the strength of the pipe, the expanding water can cause these pipes to break, which could lead to even bigger flooding, damage, or mold problems that can add up to $5,000 or more in property damages.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Before the temperatures start to drop, it is highly suggested to take measures inside to keep your pipes warm and your water running. Here are some steps to help avoid frozen pipes altogether:
Recognize Your Plumbing
In order to avoid possible catastrophe, identify where your plumbing pipes are and where they run so you’ll have a better idea of which ones may be at risk come winter. Locate all your shut-off valves and be sure to keep easy access to your main water shut off in case of an emergency. It’s always better to catch a small problem before it escalates, so call a professional, like Daigle Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling, to have your heating and plumbing systems serviced each year so you’re ahead of the game when cooler temperatures approach.
Drain and Open Your Pipes During the Fall
Completely draining the water lines of your pools and sprinkler systems is crucial in the fall so no moisture is left inside to expand during freezing temperatures. You should also drain and remove your hoses before shutting off your outdoor hose bibs. Your hose bibs should be shut off from an isolation valve on the interior of your home and left open for the season to avoid freezing.
Allow Cold Water to Drip from Faucets
Running water – even at a trickle – helps prevent your pipes from freezing. The constant drip relieves pressure that is building up in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet. This can also help keep the frozen pipes from bursting once they begin to thaw.
Insulating Your Piped Areas
Insulation is your best friend during the winter. It’s important that your water pipes located in unheated exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces, or garages are well insulated with sleeve-style insulation to help maintain temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and prevent frozen pipes. Insulating water pipes with a sleeve-style model will help prevent the formation of cracks and holes in your pipes.
Thawing Your Frozen Pipes
The best way to track frozen pipes in your home is by turning on one of your faucets and if it’s only trickling out, the pipe leading to that faucet is most likely frozen. There’s also a chance others may be frozen as well. Before thawing your frozen pipes, you’ll want to open the faucet that the pipe feeds to. Make sure both hot and cold handles have been opened. Opening the faucets will help relieve the pressure and allow the water to escape once the frozen pipes begin to thaw. Here are some options when thawing out your frozen pipes:
A hair dryer is one of the easiest methods when thawing out a frozen pipe. Beginning with the portion closest to the faucet, you’ll want to turn the hair dryer on and point it towards the pipe. Since this is an electrical product, you’ll want to take proper precautions and avoid coming in contact with water when operating.
This process can help slowly thaw frozen pipe blockages simply by wrapping multiple hot towels that have been dipped in hot water around your frozen pipes.
Electrical Heating Tape
You can purchase electrical tape that can plug in and unplug as needed, or there are electrical heating tape options that turn off on their own. Whichever type you choose to purchase, just simply apply the electrical heating tape directly to the frozen pipe to help distribute heat throughout the pipe.
Things to Avoid
Never attempt thawing a frozen pipe with an open flame, such as a propane torch. Not only can this damage your pipes, but it can also start a fire and cause more damage.
Call a Professional
If none of these methods seem to work for you and you’re unable to thaw or locate your frozen pipe or just might not be comfortable doing so, contact the professionals at Daigle Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling. We’ll be able to walk you through the process and fix your problem for you right away!
About Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling,
Founded over 40 years ago, Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is family-owned and operated by the Daigle family. We are proud to provide quality, dependable plumbing, heating, and cooling services for our customers in Derry, NH, and the surrounding areas. Daigle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is your partner for all your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs. Call us today at 603-434-6353 for a free estimate.