Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes that spew water into the home. If you’ve ever been through this problem, you know the kind of damage that water can cause in just a matter of moments. Afterwards, you might be left with soggy drywall, dangerous electrical shorts and other serious problems. No one wants that at any time of year, especially not during winter. Here are ways to prevent frozen pipes this winter.
How Pipes Freeze
It is easier to understand how pipes freeze if you understand that heat always travels towards cooler temperatures. When plumbing pipes are exposed to frigid air because they have been installed in unheated parts of the home or because they are close to freezing cold drafts, any warmth in the water moves out into the cold and the water begins to freeze. In above-freezing temperatures, you will still lose heat from exposed pipes, but it will only lead to higher energy bills rather than a plumbing disaster.
As the water freezes inside, it expands and blocks the pipe, which causes an increase in pressure. Eventually, this pressure can be enough to burst the pipe.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
- Insulate crawl spaces and other areas that house plumbing pipes.
- Seal air leaks to eliminate cold drafts on pipes.
- Insulate all pipes that run through unheated sections of the home.
- Turn off and cap outdoor faucets.
Open at least one faucet enough to allow a stream of running water. This relieves some of the pressure in case ice does form and can prevent the pipes from bursting.
Keep your home warmer when overnight temperatures drop. It is not very energy efficient to turn up the heat at night, but the extra cost of this can outweigh the damage and expense of a plumbing disaster. If your home is new and your pipes travel through insulated areas of your home, this should not be necessary. If your home is older, however, this is sometimes needed to prevent frozen pipes.
For more information about preventing frozen pipes, please contact us at Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about plumbing and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 231-714-6196.
Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Paul Tessier/Shutterstock”