Winter is coming with the inevitable colds, flu, and other assorted ills. But before you start stocking up on tissues and Emergen-C, make sure you take preventative steps to avoid a plumbing nightmare this winter. Here are five tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing:
1. Insulate your pipes.
This is probably the most crucial step in preventing frozen pipes. You can buy insulation sleeves for exposed pipes or use fiberglass insulation to wrap around them. Just seal all seams tightly so that no cold air can get in. You should also insulate outdoor faucets since they are particularly susceptible to freezing.
Another way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to keep the indoor temperature consistent. This may mean cranking up the heat a bit, but avoiding a costly repair bill will be worth it. Additionally, you can open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate pipes that run through unheated areas of your home, such as the basement or attic.
If you find yourself with frozen pipes, you can do a few things to thaw them out. Start by turning on the faucet and allowing any water in the pipe to drain. Then, apply heat to the section of the pipe using a hair dryer, heating pad, or space heater. Never use an open flame to thaw out your pipes, as this could cause them to burst. Once the ice has melted, you should run water through the pipe for a few minutes to ensure it is clear before restoring normal water flow.
2. Keep your house warm.
A consistent temperature of at least 68 degrees will help keep your pipes from freezing. If you’re going to be away from home for an extended period, set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees.
If the temperature outside is expected to drop below freezing, you can do a few things to help prevent your pipes from freezing. First, ensure that all your exterior doors and windows are properly sealed and insulated. You can also open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach any plumbing located inside. Finally, if you have exposed pipes, you can protect them with foam pipe insulation or blankets. If you take these precautions, you’ll be much less likely to deal with frozen pipes this winter.
3. Let the water drip slowly overnight.
Let a slow stream of water trickle out overnight if you know your pipes are especially vulnerable to freezing (for example, if they run through an unheated crawlspace)
Pipes are most vulnerable to freezing in unheated areas, such as crawlspaces. If you know your pipes run through an unheated space, let a slow stream of water trickle out overnight. This will help keep the pipes from freezing.
If your pipes do freeze, don’t panic. You can do a few things to thaw them out and get your water flowing again. First, turn on the faucet closest to the frozen pipe. This will help relieve pressure in the pipe and make it easier to thaw. Next, use a hair dryer or heat lamp to heat the frozen section of the pipe slowly. You can also wrap the frozen section in a heating pad or towels that have been soaked in hot water. Once the ice has melted, turn off the faucet and let the water run until it is clear. Call a plumber if you have any doubts about thawing your pipes yourself. They will be able to thaw your pipes and get your water flowing again safely.
4. Open cabinet doors below the sinks.
This will allow warm air to circulate through the pipes and help keep them from freezing solid. You should also open up all of the cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom to allow warm air to reach any pipes that may be located inside them. If your home does not have a central heating system, you may want to consider using space heaters in the rooms where you have exposed pipes. Keep an eye on them and ensure they do not overheat, as this could start a fire.
If your pipes have frozen solid, you will need to thaw them out before they can be used again. One way to do this is to pour warm water over the frozen pipes. You can also use a hair dryer or a heat lamp to thaw out the pipes slowly. Just be sure you do not use anything with an open flame, as this could create a fire hazard.
5. Disconnect and drain your garden hose.
If you leave a hose connected to an outdoor faucet, water in the hose can freeze and cause the pipes to burst. Drain the hose and store it indoors for the winter. Consider installing a frost-proof outdoor faucet to avoid this issue in the future.
If you have an irrigation system, winterize it before the first freeze. Otherwise, water in the pipes can freeze and cause them to burst. Drain the system and store it indoors for the winter.
Another way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to insulate them. This is especially important for exposed pipes, such as attics or crawlspaces. You can purchase pipe insulation at most hardware stores. Simply cut it to size and wrap it around the pipe. Secure it with duct tape or another type of adhesive.
Following these simple tips will help prevent costly plumbing repairs this winter. But if your pipes freeze, don’t try to thaw them yourself with a blowtorch or other open flame! Call a professional plumber to thaw your pipes and get your water flowing again safely. Precision Plumbing Ltd. offers 24/7 emergency plumbing services in Calgary, so we’re always here to help when you need us.