Frozen pipes are a property owner’s worst nightmare. They prevent access to water, require complicated professional repair, and are liable to burst, causing even more damage. Use these tips to protect your plumbing this winter.
If you’re seeking service for your frozen pipes, or need help with some of the tips listed here, look no further than our plumbing contractors in Minnesota, who protect homes and businesses alike against some of the coldest winters in the United States.
Water freezes at 32°F, but most pipes don’t let that happen. Generally, water in pipes is safe from freezing until it’s closer to 20°F. If you’ve lived through even one Minnesota winter, however, you know it can get much, much colder than that. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, pipes can freeze in just six hours. Insulate your pipes with heating tape, especially any sections of pipe closer to the outdoors, as well as vulnerable joints that seal pipes together. Seal up any gaps between the pipes and the floor or wall with caulk, insulation, or in a pinch, crumpled newspaper and duct tape. If you have pipes on your exterior walls, make sure you insulate them even more securely. Apply heating tape and use other forms of insulation such as rubber or silicone pipe insulation boots. The more exposed piping is to the elements, the more likely it is to freeze.
Turn On a Faucet
One of the problems that cause frozen pipes is that stationary water will freeze and expand over a period of time. If you’re anticipating a cold night or going away for a weekend, leave a faucet in the house running at a slow drip. This opens up your pipes, making it less likely that they’ll undergo freezing and bursting. This way, you essentially prevent frozen pipes by preventing the water from being able to freeze at all.
Leave the Heat Running
Many families come back from winter vacations to find their home’s pipes frozen solid. In order to remedy this problem, if you are leaving for a few days, consider leaving your heat on. You may balk at the thought of your energy bill after doing this, but it does not have to be cranked up to the same temperatures you find habitable. Keeping it around 50-55°F is sufficient to help promote warm airflow that can prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep Doors Shut — or Open
Many pipes are located in cabinets. Keeping cabinet doors open can enable warm air to reach the pipes more easily, which is an especially simple way to prevent pipes from freezing. This is something you’ll want to do often, even before bed on cold nights. Meanwhile, if you have a garage, make sure that the door is closed. Your garage is directly exposed to the cold winter air when you leave the door open, and your pipes can be badly affected. Close the door to — or seal off — crawl spaces and attics.
If there’s even a remote chance that one of your pipes has burst, contact a plumbing service right away. You can cause your home even more damage by forcing water through the plumbing system after your pipes burst. A few warning signs of a burst pipe include a frozen area on the surface of the pipe, frost visible around or near the pipe, or cracks visible on the pipe. A frozen pipe may very well be salvageable with the help of a professional, but trying to thaw frozen pipes yourself might cause your pipes more problems.
Never use an open flame near or on a pipe. You could do serious damage to your plumbing system, not to mention it’s a fire hazard. If you must thaw an (intact!) pipe yourself, your best bet is wrapping it in an electric heating pad and warming it up slowly.
It must be said that no matter how much care you take to prevent your pipes from freezing, an old or faulty plumbing system is much more vulnerable to cold weather, making your home more likely to experience pipe freezing, bursting, and inevitable water damage. It’s wise to invest in periodically replacing plumbing fixtures in your home to really make sure you’re ready for the winter. Contact us today and get a free quote!