Even if you keep your house a toasty 76 degrees all winter long, your pipes are still at risk. When water freezes, it expands, and that means trouble for any pipe – metal or plastic. So how can you help prevent those pipes from freezing and, if they do freeze, what do you do?
Here are a few tips from your friends at TruBlue Total House Care:
Which Pipes are at Risk?
Pipes that are exposed to the cold are the ones most likely to freeze – so keep an eye on water lines near the exterior walls of your home, pipes in unheated areas like the basement or crawlspace (especially in an older house), outdoor hose bibbs and outdoor sprinkler lines. For hose lines, pool supply lines and landscaping sprinkler lines, if you can drain supply lines and leave the faucets open for any expanding water, do so.
Can you Protect those Pipes?
The first step to keeping your lines from freezing is to check the insulation around the pipes and, if needed, install additional insulation. Whether you are insulating the area to keep the space warmer – like adding insulation to the attic or the crawlspace – or you are insulating the pipes themselves, staying warmer is step one. Don’t forget to check that the hot and cold water lines in the garage, bathroom and under the kitchen sink are insulated too.
If you need to insulate particular pipes, for example, ones in the basement along the exterior of your house where insulating the room won’t work as well, there are water line-specific insulating products, like pipe sleeves, heat tape or heat cable.
Even insulated pipes are still at risk, especially during long, cold snaps where the temperature remains below freezing for an extended period of time. Keep your garage closed but your cabinet doors open, in order to keep those spaces as warm as possible, and don’t turn the temperature down too much at night. When it’s very cold, you might also want to let faucets connected to your ‘at risk’ water lines drip slowly. Any moving water can help prevent freezing.
What if the Pipes Freeze Anyway?
If you turn on your faucet and only a small amount of water comes out, you could have a frozen pipe. Leave the faucet open – once you get the water moving, you’ll want to keep it flowing – and then trace the water line to the area that’s coldest. Once you’ve found the area that’s causing the issue, do what you can do to warm the pipe. You can use an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, hot/wet towels (assuming you have hot water!), an electric hair dryer or a space heater. As with all electronics, use caution when operating any of these electric devices near water and always keep the heat away from anything flammable. Never use an open flame like a blowtorch or a propane heater to warm the pipe.
If you need help insulating your home, protecting your pipes or maintaining your home this winter, your local TruBlue can help. Find a location here: https://www.trubluehousecare.com/locations/.