Avoid the Hassle of Frozen Pipes

Winters bring endless joy – the holiday season, family get-togethers, and countless memories. However, the cold weather has a few downsides. One, for instance, is the chance of freezing pipes.

When the temperature plummets, water inside the pipes may freeze. This is common in pipes situated outdoors or in unheated areas around your property. But the question is, “Why are frozen pipes a problem?”

Unfortunately, frozen pipes make your home susceptible to water damage. Below, we will explore the problems associated with freezing pipes and what you can do to prevent them.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

According to science, water expands by 9-10% upon freezing. The expanding tendency explains why we must be cautious about placing certain items in freezers, such as soda cans.

The same rule applies to water pipes. The pipe’s water freezes when exposed to freezing cold temperatures. This puts the entire plumbing system at risk of rupture. However, it is worth noting that the pipe usually doesn’t rupture at the place where ice forms.

Instead, these frozen portions force pressure between the ice blockage and the faucet. This is where the pipe ruptures – generally in places without ice.

Chilly wind plays a role in freezing pipes. If your home has visible cracks and holes, the wind blows inside, producing a cooling effect and escalating ice formation.

Also, the attic, crawl space, and basement pipes are more susceptible to freezing. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) highlights that 37% of all frozen pipe failures occur in the basement.

Why Are Frozen Pipes a Problem?

Frozen pipes are susceptible to damage. Once the water freezes and expands, the pipe can rupture. Upon thawing, the pipe will release gallons of water on your property. The water can damage your belongings and weaken your home’s structure.

What’s more, frozen pipes reduce the water pressure. In the worst-case scenario, you may fail to access any water. Therefore, treating frozen pipes is crucial to restoring the water.

Signs of Frozen Pipes

Cold temperatures can easily freeze pipes. However, spotting them can be a hassle. Here are a few signs to help you identify frozen pipes.

  • Unpleasant odors. An unusual smell springing from your faucet or drain indicates a frozen pipe. When the pipes freeze, the sewage smell has nowhere to escape. So, it may find its way back into your bathroom or kitchen.
  • Frosty pipes. Touch the pipes to see if they’re frozen. When the water inside the pipes freezes, you’ll notice visible frost on the exterior.
  • No water. If you turn on a faucet and only a small trickle comes out, it indicates an underlying problem. Frozen pipes significantly reduce the water flow. In fact, in some instances, you won’t have access to water at all.

Tips to Prevent the Pipes from Freezing

You cannot escape the winter, but you can take preventive measures to keep your pipes from freezing. Here are a few tips to keep your pipes from bursting and breaking the bank.

Keep the Garage Door Closed

Keeping the garage closed can be more helpful than you think. Supply lines often run through the garage. Keeping the space open will reduce the temperature even further, leading to frozen pipes.

Open the Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets

Opening your kitchen and bathroom cabinets frequently helps circulate the warm air. The heated air will keep the pipes from pressure and ice buildup. Consider opening the cabinets before you doze off if you expect a cold night.

Insulate the Pipes

Insulating pipes is one of the most reliable methods to prevent them from freezing. It offers a cost-effective way to regulate the pipe temperature and keep them warm. Make sure you specifically insulate pipes in unheated spaces, especially your garage, attic, and crawl spaces.

You can easily purchase insulation material from a local store. The best of them are made from foam, fiberglass, or polyethylene. Alternatively, you can wrap the pipes with newspaper or duct tape.

Let the Faucets Trickle

Keep faucets open to encourage water flow and prevent freezing. This simple hack can save you from the hassle of bursting pipes down the line. Avoid opening the faucets at full blast. Instead, let them trickle to avoid excess water waste.

Seal the Openings and Cracks

Inspect your property for cracks and openings. Check specifically around the internet and television cables, doors, and windows. Though small, these openings allow cool air to enter the building, increasing the risk of freezing pipes.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

You may have a frozen pipe if the water flows slower than usual, or won’t flow at all. Here’s how to thaw frozen pipes.

  • Leave a faucet on to inspect the water flow. Running water helps regulate the temperature and thaw the ice.
  • Warm the pipe using a hair dryer. Begin from the faucet and work your way along the length of the pipe.
  • Towels soaked in hot water can help, too. Wrap the drenched towel around the pipe and let it thaw the ice. You can also cover the pipe using a heating pad.
  • Apply heat until the water pressure in the faucet restores.
  • If you’re unsure where the frozen section is, reach out to a plumber.
  • Avoid using a propane heater or anything that presents a fire hazard.

Protect Your Pipes With Iron City Plumbing Specialists

Even if you prepare for the winter, a cold snap can leave anyone’s pipes frozen. While a minor leak can be fixed, a ruptured pipe can wreak havoc on your property, leading to extensive damage.

Reach out to a professional plumber before the worst happens and save yourself from spending money on costly replacements. A professional plumber can thaw freezing pipes and repair burst pipes before they damage your property. Protect your pipes and contact Iron City Plumbing Specialists today.