It probably goes without saying, but December, January, and February are the most common months pipes freeze throughout the country. The risk of your pipes freezing or bursting goes up if outdoor temperatures are below freezing, there’s a quick drop in temperature, your home has poor insulation, or your thermostat is set too low.
There are some things you can do to prevent frozen pipes. Be in the know and learn how to protect your home.
Keep the heat running.
You should keep the heat on in your home even if you leave for a period of time. Keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm.
Insulate at-risk pipes.
Check pipes in garages, crawl spaces, attics, unfinished basements and other unheated or poorly insulated areas indoors. These pipes are at a greater risk of freezing or bursting. Add insulation to them which you can find at your local hardware store. Pick up pipe insulation, or pipe sleeves, as well as outdoor spigot covers and other insulating products. The higher the insulation's R-value, the better.
Think outside too.
Outdoor plumbing should also be protected, if possible. Disconnect garden hoses and drain your sprinkler system. You don't want water trapped in there, waiting to freeze and expand. Put that insulated outdoor spigot cover on that you picked up at the hardware store.
Seal them up!
Seal cracks and other holes in your exterior walls, including those around any light fixtures, outdoor electrical outlets and, any phone or cable lines coming into your house. Drafts from these openings can not only chill the pipes in your walls but also waste your heating budget!
Err on the side of caution.
When it's really cold and you are worried heated air isn't making it to the pipes inside cabinets, open the doors below kitchen and bathroom sinks. You can also turn your faucets on just enough to slowly drip. Most pipes burst between an ice blockage and the faucet, not between the blockage and the source of your water supply. Opening up the faucet reduces the pressure in the pipe, hopefully enough to avoid a rupture.
If you turn on a faucet and get only a trickle of water flow, you probably have a frozen pipe! Time to take action – find the pipe and get it thawed – before the situation becomes costly. Turn off the main water supply and turn on all the faucets in the house. See which ones are not working. If no faucets work, the frozen pipe is likely somewhere close to where the main service line enters the house. If all the faucets in an area of the house don't work, it’s likely between the split from the main line. If you can't find the pipe, it's time to give us a call!
Make sure to thaw the pipe as soon as you can to prevent it from bursting and causing extensive damage to your property. There are a few ways to thaw freezing or frozen pipes, but the safest is probably just wrapping the troubled area in thermostatically controlled heat tape. Do not turn off the affected faucet until you’ve completely thawed the pipe and water flows freely. If you cannot thaw the pipe, it's time to give us a call!