If you live in Ambler, Pennsylvania then it is essential to prepare your home’s pipes for the colder winter weather. You may have risked letting your pipes stay full on the coldest winter nights in the past, but every so often we get a winter evening that bursts pipes and leaves many homeowners with water damage and plumbing bills. To avoid that unfortunate circumstance and protect your home, there are a few simple things you can do to get your pipes ready.
Why Is Freezing Pipes a Problem?
Your pipes always carry water, right? So why can’t they carry ice, especially if that ice is just going to melt when temperatures rise in the morning? It’s a reasonable question. While your pipes can carry water perfectly, water expands as it freezes. This can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the pipe. If there are existing weak points in the plumbing, then ice and burst them open. Even if not, the stress of a winter freeze will create vulnerabilities that may burst in a future frozen evening.
After a pipe has burst, nothing much will happen. Until morning arrives and the ice melts into water. Then, water will start pouring out of the burst pipe. Depending on how long it takes you to notice and shut off the water main, the more serious the water damage will be. Then you’ll also need to repair the pipe and pay for the elevated water bill. All of this hassle means that frozen pipes are not a risk worth taking.
Prevent Your Home’s Pipes from Freezing
When winter has arrived, there are some basic things you can do to prevent your home’s pipes from rupturing due to ice. Consider these options:
- Insulate: You can add insulation sleeves or slip-on foam pipe insulation to your home’s most vulnerable pipes, like copper and steel pipes which will drop to lower temperatures than plastic ones. The insulation helps them keep their temperature up and prevents freezing (although, freezing will still be possible depending on the temperatures outside).
- Heat tape: As an alternative to insulation, you can add heat tape to your pipes. This does come with some risk of fire, but if you have a professional do the work, they should follow proper safety procedures to minimize your risk and protect your pipes at the same time.
- Heat: Even if the property you own is currently empty, you should ensure that the furnace is running on the coldest nights of the year. Otherwise, the pipes will freeze at much higher temperatures than they would in an occupied home.
- Run: When you know temperatures will be record-breaking low, let each tap run a tiny bit overnight. Moving water freezes at lower temperatures than standing water.
- Foundation issues: It is generally good practice to look into the integrity of your foundation and your building exterior, and especially wise when a freeze is coming. Any gaps or cracks could let in cold air that will freeze your pipes. Have a professional patch these for a long-term solution. It’ll also help keep rodents and bugs out of your home.
- Crawl space: The crawl space is another one of those spots where cold air could creep in and make damage to your pipes much more likely. You can insulate your crawl space to prevent this. It will also make your home more affordable to heat and cool, as the crawl space will no longer allow some of your conditioned air to escape.
How to Winterize Your Pipes
If all of that isn’t enough to keep your pipes from freezing, there are more drastic measures you can take. Homeowners rarely do this unless a major freeze is coming up, as it is costly, but you can winterize your pipes. It involves removing all of the water from the pipes and fixtures, even from the water heater. When there is no water then there is nothing to freeze. The steps in winterizing a home include:
- Shut off the main water valve, the water pump and your water heater.
- Open up every valve, in order to allow water to flow out.
- Have a plumbing professional use air compression equipment to blow all of the water out of your home’s pipes.
- Drain the hot water tank either with your garden hose or a floor drain.
- Flush all toilets to remove water.
Do you need more plumbing advice, or professional support to avoid freezing pipes? Reach out to PlumbPRO Services today.