The snows of winter are officially here, and with cold weather comes a number of things to watch out for during the holiday season. Cold weather can strike your home in a surprising number of ways, and the more prepared you can be for them, the better. In particular, we warn you to watch out for frozen pipes and the damage they can cause. Dealing with them can be delicate at best and serious trouble at worst.
Frozen pipes are pipes with water inside that has frozen. Ice occupies more space than water, which means ice in your pipe can exert tremendous pressure against the sides. Not only does that stop water from flowing through the pipe – rendering the outlet on the end completely useless – but that added pressure can cause some pipes to burst. That will spray ice and water all over any surrounding materials, including dry wood, insulation and electrical wirings. Suddenly, a minor problem has created a great big mess, especially if it happens at night or while you are away from home.
In the event of a frozen pipe, you need to get the problem treated as quickly as possible. Sometimes that means arriving in the middle of the night or over a weekend to make repairs. A good plumbing service understands that, and will move swiftly to make sure frozen pipes don’t become burst pipes.
We also believe that an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure. In this case, that means identifying trouble spots where pipes are more likely to freeze, then implementing solutions that fit the specifics of the home.
Problem spots often include pipes in walls that run along the outside of the building, or with walls that lack adequate insulation. They can come from parts of the home rarely kept warm, such as the basement, or from outside pipes leading to sprinklers and the like.
Whatever their location or cause, the technician can usually suggest an upgrade to the system that lessens the chances of the pipes freezing. That can include things like insulated coverings for pipes in danger spots, or replacing older pipes in problem areas that may run a greater risk of bursting. It can also mean installing an automatic shut-off valve, which detects the changes in pressure that come with burst pipes and shut off the water so as to contain the damage.
You can help your own cause out by adhering to certain sensible tips to keep your pipes from freezing. For starters, open the faucets and other outlets a tiny bit to get a small trickle of water running out. That will help prevent the pipes from freezing, and the small bump in your water bill will be more than justified by the expensive repair or replacement job that comes from burst pipes.