As the temperature outside starts to get colder, it is important for homeowners to pay attention to the weather forecast. While most data reports that pipes will burst when the temperature is at 20 degrees or lower, they will sometimes freeze and burst right at freezing, which is 32 degrees. Water in your pipes can actually freeze in place. It’s sort of like a traffic jam. As more water freezes and gathers in one area of pipe, the pressure in that area builds. If the pressure becomes too much, the pipe will burst. Burst pipes can cost anywhere between $100 and $5,000 to repair, and this is just the repair. It doesn’t include the cost of water damage to keepsakes, furniture, and your home. The key is to prevent the right conditions from happening for the water to freeze, so we need to look at controlling the temperature and water movement. There are a few things you can do on your own to help reduce the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting and having to call an emergency plumber for pipes bursting.
- Insulate – making sure your home is properly insulated will help your HVAC system work efficiently by keeping the warm air inside during the winter and keeping the cold air in during the summer. Keeping your home warm will reduce the chances of a burst pipe because the pipe and water within it will be less likely to drop below freezing temperatures. Aside from insulating the living areas, you should also insulate the attic, the crawl space, or the basement. While the HVAC isn’t actively heating those spaces, the insulation will still keep things warmer than without it. Also consider sealing any gaps or cracks you might have in window frames or doors.
- Turn on faucets – moving water freezes more slowly than standing water so turn on your faucets if the temperature is going to drop below freezing. You do not need to have the water fully turned on and gushing out of the faucet and it does not need to be warm water. Even a dripping faucet can help pipes from freezing because the water is still moving.
- Cabinets – opening the cabinet doors where you have exposed pipes is another simple trick to prevent them from freezing. If you have pipes in the kitchen or sink that are concealed by a cabinet, open the doors to let the warm air from the rest of the house permeate the space more quickly. This is especially helpful if the sink is located on an exterior wall. There are less layers between the outside air and the pipes, so less layers to keep out the cold. If you do leave the cabinet doors open, make sure you have removed any harmful chemicals (bleach, detergent, cleaning products, etc) so kids or pets can’t get into them.
- Garage – while the garage is probably not the most cozy spot in your home, it can still help protect your pipes from the cold. Keep the garage doors closed to prevent the freezing temperatures from creeping in, especially if you have water supply lines located in the space.
- Pay attention to the thermostat – many HVAC companies will tell you to lower the temperature a few degrees when you are away from home during the day or on vacation because this will help you reduce your energy bill. Generally this is great advice, but DO NOT DO THIS when temperatures are hovering at or below freezing. When it is freezing, try to keep the thermostat set at a steady temperature. Upgrading to a Smart Thermostat could be beneficial in these situations because it allows you to remotely monitor and adjust the temperature of your home even when you aren’t there.
No one wants a burst pipe – it is messy, costly, and stressful to deal with. It is pretty easy to reduce the risk of this happening to your home if you plan ahead a little bit and keep in mind the tips discussed. The key is to prevent the pipes from getting too cold and to make sure the water isn’t still. If you do have a pipe that bursts, or if you have any other plumbing emergencies or questions, don’t hesitate to call Drain Wizards. Our knowledgeable and experienced team is here for you.