With the Arctic blast that’s rolled through the U.S.A and even the Middle Tennessee area the past few days, preventing frozen pipes should be on everyone’s mind. Believe it or not, this is a busy time of the year for plumbers because so many homeowners didn’t take the necessary steps to insulate their plumbing prior to the deep freeze temperatures! When temperatures fall, the risk of frozen pipes, burst pipes, and other property damage sky rockets. In this article, we’ll explain some great tips to help keep your at low risk for any sort of problem that can be caused by frozen pipes.
What’s at risk
Frozen pipes are caused when the uninsulated pipe is vulnerable to temperatures below 32 degrees. The most common pipes we see freezing are the ones that are located in unheated spaces, such as basements, garages and attics. But, pipes located along exterior walls or even inside cabinets can also be exposed to freezing temperatures.
When a pipe freezes, the water that sits inside the pipe also freezes along with it. When water freezes, it expands in size. This is what causes the pressure on the pipe that actually makes it burst. You may not realize it until the pipe thaws and the water begins to pour out of the burst pipe. That’s when the damage begins. This is especially true if it’s an interior-located pipe, particularly between lower and upper levels of your home. Imagine the cost of having to replace flooring, insulation, ceilings, and more!
How to avoid frozen pipes
If you’re very energy conscious, some methods to prevent frozen pipes may go against your normal judgement. However, when compared to repair costs of a burst pipe, there is no comparison in the small expense.
Use Pipe Wrap Insulation
Wrapping your pipes with foam pipe wrap insulation is a great way to protect them from freezing temperatures. Pipe wrap is available from most hardware stores and home centers, and it’s reasonably priced. Just measure the amount of pipe you’d like to insulate and purchase the insulation that meets you needs.
Leave faucets dripping
Leaving your faucet on a small drip or even a trickle, especially the hot water pipe, will give your pipes some movement and help prevent freezing. This is essential on those faucets that connect to exterior wall-exposed pipes. Hot water pipes tend to freeze faster than cold water pipes because of their mineral composition.
Open kitchen cabinet and bathroom cabinet doors
Opening your cabinets where plumbing is located is a great way to help introduce heat to your plumbing. This is especially true when your sink is located on an exterior wall. Take extra safety precautions if you have small children that could get into chemicals and cleaners under your sink.
Keep a consistent temperature set
During the day and night, it is important to keep your thermostat set to a warm temperature. During freezing temperatures, it’s not worth the few bucks you might save to turn the temps down at night. Keeping the home warm also helps keep the plumbing warm and avoid frozen pipes.
If you plan on leaving your home for more than a couple of days, you may normally turn your thermostat down in order to conserve energy while you’re not in your home. We recommend leaving the thermostat set no lower than 60 degrees to avoid the issue of frozen pipes while you’re away.
Insulation in attics, crawl spaces, along exterior walls, and in your basement can help persevere the heat that is naturally stored in your home. Extra insulation may be necessary if you feel cold spots in these areas.
Thawing frozen pipes
If you believe you have a frozen pipe, a sure sign is that you turn on your faucet and no water comes out, or just a small drip. You have to be extremely careful in this case. If you begin to thaw the pipe and it has burst, you will have water flooding out of that pipe wherever the burst is located. The best thing to do if this happens is turn the water off at the meter, your water main. It is typically located near the street. If you have any doubts about your ability to do this correctly, contact the experts at Steve Mull Plumbing. If you’re located in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Hermitage or the surrounding Middle Tennessee areas, we can send a professional out to make sure this is done correctly.
For the first step in thawing out frozen pipes, heat the pipe using an electric blanket or heat pad by wrapping it around the pipe. You can also use a small space heater in front of the area where the pipe is located on the interior of your home. Make sure when you do this, the faucet is open so you can monitor the situation.
Getting professional help
If all else fails, call in a professional. The honest, reliable, expert, licensed plumbers at Steve Mull Plumbing have all the experience and knowledge necessary to handle this task and any other problems you may be dealing with during cold months. Frozen pipes are no fun, so be sure and take the tips of this article and apply them to your home.
You can contact us by giving us a call at 615-449-5019 or send us a message through the form on this page. We look forward to serving you!