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Preventing Pipe Problems This Winter

It’s that time of year again! As the cold air blows in and you hunker down, you’ll want to think about your pipes. Water expands when frozen, placing an enormous amount of pressure and stress on pipes. This pressure can break your pipes, causing a major water loss in your property. FloodSERV is sharing helpful information about how to protect your pipes from freezing.

The Facts on Frozen Pipes

  • When water freezes and expands within your pipes, it exerts up to 40 lbs of pressure per square inch.
  • Homes built prior to the 60s are especially susceptible to frozen pipes.
  • Water expands by 10% when it freezes.
  • 37% of frozen pipe failures occur in the basement.
frozen pipe water damage

Should You Be Concerned About Your Pipes? 

While burst pipes can affect properties of all types, ages, and uses, there are a few factors that predispose your pipes to frost bite. Frozen pipes are of particular concern in the following instances: 

  • The pipes are outdoors or exposed to extreme temperatures. This can include outdoor hose bibs, a swimming pool supply line, or even your water sprinkler line. 

  • Your supply pipes reside in unheated indoor areas such as a basement, crawl space, attic, garage, or cabinet. 

  • The pipes run along exterior walls with little insulation. 

How to Protect Your Pipes 

  • Drain out swimming pools and sprinkler supply lines. Do not put antifreeze in the lines.
  • Remove and drain outdoor hoses. Close the inside valves that supply the outdoor hose line. Open outdoor hose bibs to allow water to drain. 
  • Insulate attics, basements, and crawlspaces to retain heat.  
  • Consider investing in pipe sleeves or UL-listed heat tape. In a pinch, newspaper can be wrapped around pipes for insulation. 
  • Research relocating exposed pipes to heated areas. 
pipe insulation

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes 

  • Close garage doors to keep heat in if your water supply lines are located here.
  • Circulate warm air by opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors that house pipes. 
  • During cold spells, turn faucets on to allow for a slow drip to prevent freezing. 
  • Maintain consistency in your thermostat temperature settings during the day and night. 
  • When away from the property, do not set the temperature to lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How to Tell if Your Pipes are Frozen

You can generally tell if the pipes are frozen if only a trickle of water comes out when the faucet is on. Other methods include a touch-test to exposed pipes. If you find yourself shivering after touching the pipe, there is a good chance it could be frozen. Finally, if you notice signs of water damage in your home such as peeling paint, sagging ceilings, wet drywall, discolored areas, it is possible the pipe has already burst. 

How to Handle Frozen Pipes 

Sometimes, even despite your best efforts, the property’s pipes can freeze and burst. While this can be a scary situation to find yourself in, there are measures you can take to minimize the issue.  Here’s how you can handle frozen pipes in your property: 

  • Keep faucets turned on. As the ice melts and allows water to flow, it will assist in dethawing the rest of the pipe. 

  • Wrap a heating pad or blankets around the pipe, or apply warm air with a hair dryer, space heater. Do not use blowtorches, propane heaters, stoves, or other open flames to apply heat. 

  • Heat should be applied until water pressure has fully returned.  

  • Check all faucets in the property to identify other frozen pipes. Where there is one frozen pipe, there is likely another. 

  • If you cannot find the section of pipe that is frozen, or it is inaccessible, call a professional plumber for help. 


Don’t Let Frozen Pipes Get You Down 

If your property falls victim to frozen pipes, and worse, a pipe bursts, FloodSERV is here to help. Our water restoration team is experienced with burst pipe water damage and will handle the job with care. 

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