Anyone who lives in an area that sees temperatures below freezing during the winter months knows that cold weather can be devastating on plumbing. When temperatures drop to a certain level, the water inside of your pipes can freeze and then, as a result, those pipes can burst. This can cause an unimaginable amount of damage to your home as well as your plumbing. It can also run up an enormous water bill. No one wants either of these things to occur, but it is difficult to keep pipes from freezing, especially at certain temperatures. There are certain steps that you can take to keep your pipes safer. This includes several different things, some you can do at a moments notice, some require purchasing certain items, and some require hiring a professional. Regardless, each step is important and plays its own part in protecting your pipes from freezing and bursting. Skipping any one of these steps can potentially result in disaster. If you have never had to deal with freezing pipes it can be difficult to know where to start. This is why it is helpful to have a guide to help you along. What you will find here is exactly this type of guide. You will find information about preparing your pipes, what to look out for, and what to do if a problem does arise.
First, it is important to note that it is not possible to guarantee that your pipes will never freeze or burst. Because of this, you need to know how to handle the situation if it should occur. If your pipes are frozen, but not busted, you can take steps to slowly warm them up. You can use a hair dryer on areas of the pipe you can easily reach, but be very careful if you choose this method. Never get the dryer too close to the pipes nor should you keep the heat directly on the pipe and do not keep the heat on the pipe for an extended period of time. If a pipe does burst, immediately turn off the water supply. If you cannot shut it off to only that area, turn it off at the main valve. Next, contact a plumber as quickly as possible. If you do not already have a regular plumber, you will need to start by finding out what plumbers are available in your area. The easiest way to get this information is to search the internet. All you have to do is open your favorite browser and type in a few keywords. If you do not know how to choose the best keywords, it is a simple process. All you need to do is use the term “plumber” along with a location descriptor. If you have a company in mind such as Colepepper Plumbing Company, you can search for that specifically.
The first step you need to take should occur right as temperatures begin to drop at the beginning of the season. This is to cover and seal any areas that lead to your pipes. For example, cover any vents or openings under the house that would allow air to directly hit your pipes. The most common cause of freezing pipes is cold air blowing directly on the pipes. Even the smallest opening can cause serious problems. You can use just about anything to cover these areas, but some materials are better than others. Heavy plastic is an excellent tool for this. For a sturdier covering, consider cutting a board to fit the opening snuggly. This provides more stability and strength. This, in turn, means that it will last longer and be able to stand against inclement weather such as wind, rain, and even snow. Also, be sure to securely close up basements or other areas where pipes are exposed.
The next step is to monitor the temperature. Any time the temperature drops below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you should open cabinets where pipes are located, place small heaters near the open cabinet, and leave the water running a bit. When you are placing the heater, be absolutely certain that there are no chemicals or aerosols in the path of the heat. Also, do not get the heat source too close to the pipes themselves. When plugging in the heater, do not use a power strip. Instead, use only a regular outlet. If you cannot safely accomplish this, turn up whatever heat source is already in the room. As for leaving the water running, a small stream is all that is needed. You need a bit more than a drip, but it does not have to be a full blast stream either. You should leave both the hot and cold on, but it is more important to make sure the cold is running.
Another option for very cold nights is to use warmers. There are special pipe warmers that you can buy specifically for this purpose. If you do not have access to pipe warmers, you can substitute hand warmers that are a favorite tool of hunters. These can be found almost anywhere including sporting goods stores, chain stores such as Walmart, bait and tackle shops, and many other places. These can be placed near pipes to provide a direct heat source. It is not possible to have enough hand warmers or pipe warmers to cover every inch of pipe, underneath the structure as well as in basements and under sinks. Because of this, it is best to target problem areas. This generally includes areas where the pipe enters the structure, under sinks, and anywhere that remains exposed directly to the cold and wind.
Finally, turn off water access to garden hoses and any outdoor spouts. It is a good idea to take the hose loose, drain it, and put it away for the winter months. Cap off anything you can cap off. This will play a big part in ensuring that the cold air does not reach any pipes that are in use. If you still have questions, reach out to a local plumber for help and advice.