Unless you’re a skier or enjoy ice fishing, there really isn’t a lot to look forward to during the cold months. Our first priority is always going to be to make sure ourselves, as well as our friends, family, and pets, are safe as the mercury continues to plunge. The protection of your home from the cold temps is also critical this time of year. Prevention is always the top priority – but here’s what to do when your pipes freeze in the Winter:
Why Do Pipes Freeze and What’s the Damage?
Pipes freeze because it’s cold; a no-brainer, right? Well, why is it that your neighbors are out keeping warm in their hot tub while you can’t even pour a glass of water? The answer is because it’s not the cold temps alone that cause pipes to freeze. Also, the freezing doesn’t cause the most damage – it’s the impending thawing.
Pipes can freeze up because they aren’t properly insulated. For roughly $4 per foot, you can have foam insulation installed to create a barrier between the cold and your pipes, saving you hundreds in potential damage. Failure to ‘winterize’ your home also causes pipes to freeze. Leaving a hose hooked up outside, for example, creates a pressure buildup that will actually cause a burst in the cold weather – not good. Turning your heat off when leaving for a Winter weekend is another surefire way to return home to some sort of plumbing damage.
Damage from frozen pipes can range from plumbing repairs to the complete replacement of drywall, carpet, wood floors, furniture, and more. It’s not unheard of for frozen (then thawing) pipes to cause $5,000 – $10,000 worth of damage to a property. This is why it’s important to know what to do when your pipes freeze in the Winter.
Prevention Didn’t Work – Now What?
So your home or business plumbing has frozen up – it doesn’t have to be a death sentence especially if you act promptly and properly. Sometimes the most that happens when your pipes freeze is just that you’re without water for a stretch.
The first thing you want to do when your pipes freeze is open up the hot and cold faucets. This will relieve pressure in the system and give the thawing water somewhere to go when it does begin to thaw. You always want to start thawing at the faucet and work towards the blockage. Starting to thaw in the middle of the pipes, for example, can create a steam blockage that causes a burst.
There are a number of thawing methods that can be attempted as well. It works to wrap the frozen section of pipes in a warm towel and regularly pour hot water over the top of them. On exposed areas of pipe that are frozen you can also use a hair dryer or space heater thaw the ice.
What to Do When Pipes Freeze In Winter – Call a Plumber
Sometimes the safest option is to simply call a plumber when your pipes freeze in Winter. An experienced plumber can pinpoint the blockage and perform the proper reparation methods depending on where the issue is located (even behind walls). Best of all when a plumber comes on site, it’s like a Winter pipe audit. You’ll know the problem areas (exposed pipe, poor home insulation, gaps around windows/doors, etc.) and the appropriate solution. Peace of mind is priceless, especially in the bitter cold Winter months.
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