Whenever the outdoor temperatures drop and the cold winds start blowing; your water pipes become vulnerable to freezing. It’s in fact the water inside those pipes that freezes and as a consequence expanse. The ice formed out of the freezing water plugs the pipes and this blockage causes pressure to build up between the closed faucet downstream and the frozen section. This pressure build-up causes the pipes to burst messing up your home.
Though the picture looks bleak and seemingly hopeless, the good news is that the freezing and bursting of pipes can be nipped in the bud with just a simple maintenance. Below are some of the preventive ideas.
This is one of the most practical ways of safeguarding your pipes against freezing. Before the winter begins, ensure your pipes are well insulated particularly in the large areas such as crawl spaces. You can use foam board and fill in with fiberglass. As a localized solution, you can use insulation sleeves to cover the pipes. However, don’t use this technique for pipes that run adjacent to uninsulated exterior walls because this will potentially block indoor heating and the cold outside air.
You can also apply temporary seals to your air inlets and foundation vents. Any cracks should be sealed and holes caulked.
When you keep your pipes warm, there are good chances that they won’t freeze. Even if nobody is at home, have a habit of maintaining your home at temperatures of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit and above. In case you are planning to travel for an extended period of time, ensure your water system is drained as this will keep it safe just in case of a cold snap.
Near the pipes, you can use a space heater to keep the water above freezing temperatures. Another quite innovative solution is using electric heating tapes and cables preferably connected to a self-regulating thermostat. Use these methods with care because there are possibilities of them causing a fire.
Opening kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity can warm plumbing lines running on uninsulated exterior walls. The heat from your kitchen and bathroom will be directed towards the pipes. If you are not using the garage, keep its doors closed to minimize on cold air flow. This is particularly important in a scenario where the water supply lines are in the garage.
As winter nears, ensure every garden hose that is connected to your outdoor faucet is unplugged and taken in. You should also disconnect the water supply to your pool and any other outdoor pipes. Faucets should also be turned on so that they can drain water and once the process is finished, they should be turned off. Winterize your sprinkler system and ensure any outdoor spigots are covered.
Apart from draining water from the pipes so that no liquid can freeze, you can also let a small amount of water drip continually from your tap. The advantage with this approach is that it eases the pressure buildup and hence minimizes the occurrence of pipe bursts. Remember to collect the dripping water so that it doesn’t go to waste.
As a caution, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if it covers damage from burst pipes and the extent of such coverage.