Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Freezing pipes are among the most common and expensive problems any homeowner faces come wintertime. If pipes freeze and break, it can cause a lot of water damage to your property and possessions. This disaster is avoidable and in this article, we share with you 5 ways to prevent freezing pipes in the winter.
How Freezing Pipes Happen
When the temperature drops, the water inside the pipes starts to freeze. When this happens, it creates a lot of pressure inside the pipe and often results in pipes bursting. This leads to more serious issues like flooding especially when you’re away on a winter break and there is no one to turn off the water.
Ways To Avoid Freezing Pipes
The best way to prevent freezing pipes from happening is to keep them warm enough to stay above the freezing point. To do so, consider these 5 easy ways to prevent pipes from freezing in the winter.
Dangers of frozen pipes
Water expands dramatically when frozen, and the sudden expansion is what causes them to burst. This expansion can, at times, lead to some serious water damage all around your home. Here are a few dangers of frozen pipes to be aware of:
Leaks into the foundation
In the event a frozen pipe bursts, it may not be apparent for hours, days or weeks after the occurrence, especially when it leaks into the foundation of your home. You may find out that your foundation has begun to suffer damage due to constant water bombardment. You will need to address this immediately with both a plumbing professional and a foundation specialist.
Leaks into a wall or cavity
Unlike your foundation, it should be obvious quite quickly you have a leak in a wall or cavity; often homeowners see evidence from a floor flooding, or water coming through a ceiling. Immediately turn off your water at the source, or at the main connection for your house as soon as possible.
Basement flooding can be an expensive and frustrating experience. Basement flooding often occurs from frozen pipes bursting when running between the foundation from exterior locations. If you have an un-insulated crawl space, or unfinished basement with no heat access, keep a routine maintenance check on your water pipes.
Property damage (furniture, appliances)
When you have a flood from frozen pipes, you may encounter ruined furniture, appliances or other property damage.
Combined with foundation leaks, or wall/cavity leaks, you may have signifiant structural damage to your home. Our pro-tip is to ensure you adequately heat your home while away, on vacation, or turn off the water to ensure it does not freeze and burst when turned on later.
Even the broken pipe can freeze back over, which causes the hole to enlarge over time. Keep your eyes wide open and be aware of whats going on around your house, and if you find any reason to suspect that if a pipe in your house has burst, hire a professional assistance right away to find and fix the burst.
However, you would only have to worry about burst pipes when the temperature falls below freezing temperatures. Nonetheless, being vigilant about the same during the months of winter is crucial, especially if you live in a colder climate. If you have not made yourself pre-prepared for the situation and the temperature drops suddenly during the night, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise in the morning.
What To Do If The Pipes Break
If your pipes burst or break, do the following immediately:
Turn off the main water supply
Turn off the main water supply immediately. Do not turn the water back on until advised by a licensed plumber.
Call a plumber
Call your plumber as soon as it is safe to do so. Your plumber will be able to diagnose and help plan to help fix the issue at hand.
Clean up the water
Clear away and clean up any water that is present. The longer water sits the more damage it will cause to your property and structure. Especially on wood, clean up and attempt to move water away from structural areas.
Drain sinks, faucets, or other appliances
Drain all your pipes from your faucets and appliances to remove pressure from the pipes, along with eliminating the possiblity for a future leak while diagnosing the problem.
Warm up the home
Turn on the heat in your home, or if safe to do so, use a hair dryer in specific circumstances to warm up the pipes affected. This is a slow process that will help the pipes without causing a second burst.
Circulate air by opening your windows and doors
Open the doors and windows to your home to move air around -- this will help dry the area affected faster. The warmer the air, the better.
Use a repair sleeve to temporary fixes
In some situations, you can use a sleeve on to the pipe to clog the hole. This may allow you to use water again but is only a temporary fix.
Again, when worse comes to worst and the pipes burst, the first thing to do is to turn off the water source and immediately call a professional to fix it as soon as you can.
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