Winter and the lower temperatures are coming and the last thing you want to be is unprepared. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage and freezing accounted for 33.7% of insurance losses in 2014 compared to 25.9% in 2013. The good news is that there are ways to prevent your pipes from freezing and causing damages by taking preventative action and educating yourself on how it can happen.
Pipes will freeze depending on the weather elements. Water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit which spells trouble for pipes. The problem starts when water freezes in the pipe. This builds pressure between the closed area (faucet, hose, etc.) and the ice. When the pressure becomes too great, the pipe will burst. Exterior, un-insulated and copper or galvanized steel pipes are all among the most susceptible to freezing.
So, how do you prevent this from happening? It’s important to be proactive, especially when the temperatures become near freezing which can happen overnight. There are several ways you can prepare your pipes for chillier weather.
The first step is to drain, remove and store external hoses as they can become easily ruined in the harsh elements. Be sure to repeat these steps for other outside lines like for sprinklers. Then close inside the valves that supply them with water. This will cause the water to drain. In the event of pipes freezing, the water remaining in the pip can expand without breaking the pipe.
Additionally pipes should be insulated with foam or pipe sleeves in areas like the garage, basement and any other unheated areas. The pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sinks should also be insulated. Be sure to insulate other areas in your home including sealing any cracks, closing garage doors to keep the heat inside and closing up any holes inside your home.
When the weather is especially chilly, let water drip from the pipes as this will help prevent pipes from bursting and freezing. Also, keep your thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night for consistency, no lower than fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit.
So, what happens if your pipes do freeze? The first step is to turn off the main water valve. If you can access the frozen pipes, thaw them out with warm air by using a hair or space heater. Be sure to not leave it unattended and avoid anything with open flames. Slowly turn the water back on while looking for any leaks. If the frozen area is not accessible or you are unable to unfreeze the pipe, be sure to call a plumber for assistance.