Frozen pipes are all too common during the cold months. As water freezes, it expands, and when it expands inside your plumbing pipes, it puts the entire system at risk. Increased pressure inside the pipes makes them prone to cracking. And you don't want to deal with a burst pipe in the middle of winter.
How much damage can a frozen pipe cause? Let’s put it this way: A seemingly small, 1/8-inch crack can release 250 gallons of water per day. Flooding from a burst pipe can lead to mold and costly structural damage. Homeowners should take every precaution necessary to prevent this disaster from happening.
But how do you avoid frozen pipes? Keep reading to find out.
Temporary Tricks to Avoid Frozen Pipes
Although you can't control the weather, you can protect your pipes from icy conditions. A few preventive measures will keep your pipes above freezing and intact even as temperatures plummet.
- Drip your faucets: If the forecast calls for freezing temperatures, open the hot and cold faucets in your home just a little bit. A slow, constant drip will keep the pipes warm and reduce pressure.
- Protect outdoor faucets: Make sure to close and drain all outdoor faucets. Disconnect any water hoses. Use faucet covers to keep the taps insulated and protected from falling ice.
- Open cabinet doors: Exposed pipes under the bathroom and kitchen sinks are prone to freezing. Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the pipes.
- Keep the furnace on low: Going out of town? Make sure you program your furnace to run even while you're not home. If the house gets too cold, you may return to a burst pipe.
- Open the air vents: Avoiding cold zones is essential. Keep the air vents open so warm air blows into every room.
It's best to implement these low-cost, temporary fixes as soon as temperatures begin to drop. Waiting too long may result in disaster. Notice ice crystals on your indoor pipes? Use a hair dryer on a low setting to slowly melt the ice. If you lose power in sub-zero weather, insulate and cover your most-likely-to-burst pipes right away.
Permanent Ways to Protect Your Pipes
While temporary fixes are helpful, long-term solutions, although more expensive, provide even more peace of mind and will protect your pipes from freezing for many years to come.
Try these permanent methods to avoid frozen pipes:
- Insulate your crawl space: Take a look inside your crawlspace. Do you notice all the exposed pipes and ducts? Insulating this often-overlooked area will protect your pipes.
- Replace standard outdoor faucets: Conventional faucets are vulnerable to freezing. Installing frost-proof faucets will add an extra layer of protection to help prevent burst pipes in cold climates.
- Reroute the pipes: Do your pipes travel through the coldest parts of your home? If so, hire a plumber to reroute the lines to a more protected area.
- Insulate the walls: How well insulated is your home? Pipes located in exterior walls are prone to freezing because they’re closer to the cold. Consider adding more insulation inside the walls.
- Repair exterior wall cracks: Holes and cracks are prime entryways for cold air. Before freezing temperatures arrive, fill cracks in your exterior walls with an approved caulk or sealant. The best time to apply caulk, according to Energy.gov, is while temperatures are still over 45-degrees Fahrenheit.
Get Your Home Ready for the Next Freeze
It's impossible to prevent icy weather, but you can protect your pipes. Will your pipes survive the next freeze? Your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing offers services to prevent frozen pipes. Request an estimate online or call (855) 591-0128 if you want to weatherize your pipes for winter.