Tips to keep your plumbing working throughout the winter

| by Amanda Jaylene
Tips to keep your plumbing working throughout the winter

Hopefully, most people probably already know that water expands as it freezes. However, many homeowners underestimate the pressure that this expansion can create. The expansion of water as it freezes can cause the vessel containing that water to rupture, regardless of its strength. The expansion of water in a home’s plumbing can cause pipes to burst which can result in flooding and water damage. A crack as small as 1/8 of an inch can result in as much as 250 gallons being lost in a day.

Which Pipes are Most at Risk?

The pipes that are most likely to freeze include those located in exterior walls and those that are exposed in parts of the home without heating.

Potential Causes of Burst Pipes Inside and Outside of a Home

Garden Hoses
Water in a garden hose can freeze and expand. The expansion creates pressure in the plumbing system to which it is connected. In order to prepare for cold weather, homeowners should disconnect garden hoses and drain them before storing them for the winter.

Exterior Spigots
The homeowner can invest in frost-proof spigots or turn off the shut-off valve that leads to their exterior spigots.

Exposed Plumbing Inside the Home
Because the exposed plumbing in a basement is in a heated space, it is not likely to freeze. However, pipes in an attic or crawlspace might. Pipe insulation is an affordable and effective option in locations that are moderately cold.

Exterior Walls with Inadequate Insulation
When pipes freeze in exterior walls, it is usually because of insufficient insulation or because the insulation has not been properly installed. It is often worth it for the homeowner to open the walls and improve the insulation. If this does not work, another option is to reroute the pipe. Factors that affect the cost of rerouting include how far the pipe has to be rerouted and the amount of damage done in the process.

What to Do if a Pipe Freezes
According to insurance company, Allstate, if a pipe inside a home freezes, the best ways to thaw it are:

  • To use a hair dryer. They recommend not using the hair dryer around standing water for safety purposes.
  • To heat water on a stove and then to soak towels in the water. Those towels should then be wrapped around the cold sections of pipe.
  • To start thawing the section of pipe that is closest to a faucet. If the faucet is turned on, the water can drip out as the ice melts.

Arizona bathroom remodeler ReBath states that it is possible ensure functional plumbing while still providing homeowners with the bathroom that works best in their space. The right remodeler can ensure that water damage is repaired properly and that pipes in the home are adequately prepared for winter.

Preventive Action Inside the Home

The Red Cross states that the best preventive actions for homeowners to take are to:

  • Open all the doors of cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms. This allows the warm air in the home to circulate around the plumbing thus keeping it warm.
  • Let water drip from faucets that are connected to exposed pipes on colder days. Even a trickle of water can keep these pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat at the same temperature all day and all night instead of lowering it for the nighttime. While the cost of heating the home will increase, it will still be less than the cost of water damage repairs if pipes burst. If the homeowner will be away from home for an extended period, they should not set their thermostat any lower than 55 degrees.

Topics: Plumbing & Fixtures, Sinks & Toilets

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