In winters, as the temperature decreases, the risk for your having frozen water lines burst sky-rockets and you might need to thaw frozen water lines before they break. The pipes located at unheated places are at greater risk of bursting, such as those located in basements and attics. When water freezes, its volume increases, which causes the pipes to burst and damage the buildings or homes.
Water and frozen pipe damage to the buildings is the second most common type of claims filed in the US in 2010-14. This is an extremely worrisome situation for the homeowners, and it can be avoided if you know the basics of how to tackle such a situation.
How do Water lines Freeze?
Water starts to freeze with the fall in temperature, and pipes are more vulnerable to freezing in the winter season or where there is freezing temperature throughout the year. Frozen water pipes are at risk of rupturing and can cause severe leaks and flooding.
When water freezes, its volume increases, and it starts to expand, putting the whole piping system at risk of rupturing. If there are cracks and holes in the unheated places, the wind chills can accelerate the freezing process. Even wind from the tiny openings such as internet, cable, or television lines holes cause the icing process to increase.
It’s not just the northern region that is at the risk of harm due to freezing, but southern climate change can cause serious destruction. Because in the southern region, most of the buildings and houses are not ready for such weather structure, so they lead to ice blockages, frozen and burst pipes.
Thaw Frozen Water Lines
When you find out that your water lines are frozen, be more cautious while thawing the pipes. Because if the frozen pipes are already ruptured, the water will flood your home while thawing. If you suspect a broken pipe, shut down the main water valve, which is probably at the meter, or call a plumber if there is a serious problem.
- Turn the Faucet On
Turn the faucet on when thawing because it will allow water to flow when you treat the frozen pipes. When water starts running down the pipe, it will help the nearby ice to melt quickly.
- Apply Heat to the Frozen Pipes
After keeping the faucet open, heat the frozen lines in various ways, including a portable heater, electric hair dryer, an electric heating pad, or by using hot towels wrapped around the frozen pipes. Keep on heating the pipes until the water pressure is fully restored.
Do not heat them using open flames as it may damage the pipes or even set the place on fire.
- Check All the Pipes
After treating the suspected frozen ones, check all the other ones that are more prone to freezing. Turn on the other faucets and if you see a trickle just, then thaw them in the same way.
- Contact a Plumber
Contact a plumber if you cannot find out the frozen lines or if you are unable to thaw the pipes.
How to Keep Water Lines from Freezing?
The following recommendations will help you to protect your pipes from freezing:
- To protect your pipes from freezing, make sure that your lines are not exposed to the temperature approaching 20 degrees Fahrenheit because 20 degrees is the threshold alert temperature for freezing.
- One of the most common methods of keeping them from freezing is to add insulation to basements, attics, and garages. Insulation will keep these places at the higher temperature.
- Try to drain water from the swimming pools before the onset of the winter season, and do not use anti-freeze. Anti-freeze is not environment friendly and causes severe harm to your pets, landscaping, and yourself.
- Check around the areas in the home where water supply’s are located, especially in the constantly exposed areas to the wind. Add insulation to both cold and hot water supply pipes.
- Open the outdoor hoses and close the indoor valves to allow water to expand without rupturing them.
- Maintain the thermostat at a constant temperature or contact a local plumber in worst scenarios to avoid huge destructions.
Prevent Frozen Lines
- Add Insulation to Exposed Piping
The easiest and inexpensive thing that you can do to prevent them from freezing is adding insulation to the exposed fixtures. You have to pay more attention to the exposed ones located inside the house. You can use different types of pipe insulations, from foam or polythene to fiberglass.
- Keep Garage Doors Closed
The other way to prevent them from freezing is by keeping the garage doors closed. Most commonly, water supply lines go through the garage. And if the garage door is left open accidentally, water supply lines may freeze, causing serious problems for the homeowners.
- Let Drain and Faucet open
Keep those faucets on which are led by the more exposed water pipes. This will help prevent ice formation in your plumbing. A running faucet can help drop pressure build up in the frozen ones as a little friction and heat produced by running water can help prevent ice blockages.
- Leave the Heat On
If you plan a vacation, you should leave the heat on in your house to prevent them from bursting and freezing. The temperature approaching 55 degrees or higher is the optimum temperature to keep your pipes from freezing.
- Seal Cracks and Crawl Spaces
Sealing crawl spaces will help you to block the entry of cold air around your water lines. Check if there are any cracks in the pipes, get them treated as soon as possible. Seal the cracks and crawl spaces with the help of duct tape and foam.
- Use Heat tape to Regulate Temperature
They that are easily accessible and more exposed can be prevented by directly applying heating tapes. But before using electrical heating tape, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any mishap.
Precautions (For Preventing Lines Bursting)
- Make sure that you disconnect your hoses from the outside faucets of the house. If you don’t disconnect the hose, the water will not be able to drain and freeze, causing it to burst.
- Keep the thermostat at a regular temperature and check the temperature regularly.
- Let the kitchen cabinet doors open.
- Call a licensed plumber if you are not able to fix or locate the problem.