Everything You Need To Know This Winter About Freezing Pipes

Its your second day being home-bound due to this years’ winter storms. You just woke up and are about to brush your teeth, when you turn the faucet on and you hear this strange noise and no water comes out. Your first reaction is to turn it off and then turn it back on in hopes of jump-starting the water… but as expected, that doesn’t work. Then it hit you! The temperatures have been in the teens the past few days and you have made no precautions to prevent your pipes from freezing. Sad to say, your pipes are frozen!

Thankfully this doesn’t have to happen to you. Throughout this blog you will learn about how to prevent your pipes from freezing, what to do if they freeze, and what to do if they burst

What Conditions Cause Pipes to Freeze

Water freezes at 32°F — but what a lot of us don’t know — is that the pipes will freeze at 20°F degrees over the span of about 6 hours. So that means that when the temperatures start dropping down into the teens and single digits in the middle of winter, you need to be taking precautions protecting your pipes. What you may not know is that hundreds of gallons of water can be released with a pipe bursting… which can cause flooding in your home, leading to structural damage, and increases your chance to develop mold quickly. Having a pipe burst is costly and time-consuming, so it is better to be safe than sorry and take precautions!

Taking Precautions

  • Insulation! Insulation! Insulation! The more that the pipes are insulated the better. It is uncommon for pipes to be well insulated in crawl spaces, attics, and basements. So, adding protection there is a great start.
  • In areas that are not well insulated, heat tape or heat cables are a good alternative. There are even some types of cables that can connect to your thermostat and when a certain temperature is reached the thermostat will turn on— so energy and money are not wasted.
  • Seal all leaks! Don’t just put a bowl under a leak and save it for a rainy day. Leaks allow for cold air to get into the pipe and that in turn will cause the pipes to freeze faster than normal. Leaks occur most often around electrical wires and dryer vents. When you find a leak, you can easily seal it with caulk… or you can call ONE Service Pros and we can take care of it for you.
  • The fall is a great time to disconnect all garden hoses, shut off your outdoor water valve, and drain any water that is leading from the outside to the inside. Leaving them on can contribute to your pipes freezing quicker than normal.
  • The most simple tip is to let water drip in all of your faucets when temperatures drop below 30 degrees. This will get movement in the pipes and keep the pipes from freezing. You can run either hot water or cold water.
  • Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature all day. This will allow the pipes to maintain the same temperature while also putting less strain on your HVAC system.
    Open cabinet doors under the sink to allow for the heat to enter into that space — which will help the pipes to stay warmer. Be sure to move any harmful chemicals from under the sink to another safe location if you have small children.
  • Use fans or leave doors open to direct warm air to areas of the house that are colder than other parts of the house.
  • If your water supply is in the garage, be sure to keep the garage door closed to allow for the cold air to stay out and the warm air to stay in.
  • Try not to turn the thermostat temperature down when you go to sleep at night — instead as listed before, maintain the same temperature throughout the day and night.
  • When traveling in the winter months, never set your thermostat below 55°F! If temperatures outside drop, there won’t be enough warm air circulating to prevent your pipes from chilling quickly.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

Let us hope that your pipes never freeze… but if they do, be prepared for what to do next. The way to tell if your pipes are frozen are pretty simple; if you have little to no water flow, frost on the pipes, you hear strange noises coming for the sink when you turn the water on, or you smell sewage (as pipes freeze, so too does sewage). If you see a bulge in the pipes, that is a sign the pipe is about to burst. When water freezes it expands so there is no longer room for the water to fit in the pipe, so the pipe starts to expand and if the ice inside isn’t melted quickly, it will eventfully break. If you suspect that a pipe might burst, shut off the main water valve to your home, and call a professional plumber like ONE Service Pros immediately.

If your pipe have frozen but not burst, there are a few steps you can take to thaw them. If a trickle of water is coming out of the faucet leave the sink on running hot water and that will help melt the ice in the pipes gradually. If the pipes are accessible, you can use an electric heating pad, hair dryer, or hot towels to melt the water inside the pipes — being safe to avoid any condensation from the pipes getting anywhere near the heating device! Be sure not to use any type of heating tool that will cause the water in the pipes to boil because that can cause the pipes to burst as well. Continue to do this until the water pressure returned to normal and stayed normal. If the pipes are not accessible, call ONE Service Pros and we can help you before anymore damage is done. If one pipe is frozen be sure to check all the other pipes in your home. Assess every faucet to ensure you know what’s working and what needs help. And then? Give us a call. Together we can thaw the problems, and discuss ways to prevent any future freezing issues!

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