There is nothing good about frozen pipes. If your pipes happen to freeze during the cold winter months, you could wind up with a very expensive problem on your hands – not to mention the potential for a messy cleanup process. Of course, the best course of action is to prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place, avoiding any need to complete repairs or cleanup jobs.
As you likely already know, pipes that freeze are prone to breaking because water expands as it freezes. That means the newly formed ice inside the pipe will need somewhere to go, and usually that means busting through the walls of the pipe itself. If you have any pipes which are located in areas that get exposed to extremely cold temperatures throughout the winter, you will want to take steps to prevent those pipes from freezing and breaking.
The best time to take action with regard to your pipes is before the cold weather even arrives. As summer winds down and the leaves start to come off the trees, you should be thinking about some preventative measures which will protect your pipes. First, you want to drain the water from your swimming pool and sprinkler lines. Any hoses that are usually kept outside during warm months should be drained and brought inside to stay warm throughout the winter.
In addition to your outdoor hose systems, you also want to check on any pipes that come into your home from outside and may be subject to cold temperatures. For instance, pipes that run through your basement or crawl space before entering the warmed area of your home should be insulated properly for protection. Even hot water pipes need to be insulated or they could be prone to freezing if the temperature drops sufficiently. If you find that your pipes are vulnerable, use products that are specifically designed to keep pipes warm in the winter months.
Once Winter Arrives
When the cold weather has settled in, there are still steps you can take to prevent pipe freezing. For instance, take a moment to open up some of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets in order to let the heated air circulate around the pipes under each sink. During periods of extreme cold, consider allowing some taps run at just barely a drip to keep water moving through the pipe that is coming in from outside. Even if you are only running a tiny amount of water through the line, you will be helping to fight against freezing.
One of the common mistakes that is made by homeowners in cold environments is turning the furnace completely off while on vacation or otherwise away from the home. If you shut off your furnace and the temperatures outside take a dive, you could come home to a surprise of frozen pipes. Consider leaving the heat on at least a moderate temperature to prevent the pipes from having a chance to plunge to a temperature that allows them to freeze and break. You may have to spend a little bit of extra money on your heating bill, but that will pale in comparison to the potential cost of a pipe repair and cleanup in your home.
Avoiding frozen pipes comes down to thinking ahead, pay attention around your home, and taking some basic steps during periods of extreme cold. Even if you don’t live in an area that is usually extremely cold, pay attention to the weather and take action if an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures is headed your way. Taking a little bit of time out of schedule in an effort to prevent frozen pipes is a trade that you should be happy to make.