One of the largest concerns during the winter is frozen pipes. Non-insulated pipes within exterior walls or in crawl spaces can freeze during days with sub-freezing temperatures. As you may know when water freezes it expands. This expansion presses against the walls of the pipes and if it continues the pipes may burst! This bursting can allow hundreds of gallons of water into your home, causing severe damage to walls, carpets, ceiling, etc.
In order to avoid frozen pipes in the winter be sure that all of your exposed waterlines are properly insulated before temperatures drop. Types of insulation you can use include heat tape, foam rubber sleeves, or fiberglass insulation in either roll or sheet form. Also, make sure all garden hoses are detached and sprinkler systems are turned off and blown out. If you are concerned about freezing being a problem and would like to have a professional inspect your home and get it prepared for winter we would be happy to come out and take a look. Just give us a call at 609-815-5144.
What if I Have a Broken Pipe?
If you have a pipe that has burst, immediately cut off the main water supply. This will prevent the water from continuing to gush out into your home. Once it’s been shut off immediately call your preferred plumbing service provider to set up an appointment to have the pipe repaired.
Thawing a Frozen Pipe
You may be able to thaw your frozen pipes before an emergency arises. First, identify which pipe is frozen. You’ll know a pipe is frozen if on a faucet and no water comes out or only trickles out. Follow the pipe from the non-working faucet and search for any sections in which appears to have frost or exterior ice. If you feel the pipe, the frozen section will be much colder than other areas. Look closely at the section for any bulges and feel for cracks. If there is a crack, you will need to call J Downs Plumbing for repair.If you’ve escaped a pipe break so far, you may be able to thaw it out – even without having to tear out walls or paneling. Simply crank up the heat in your home to a higher setting and wait. You can also direct a heat lamp, space heater, or infrared heat lamp at the section of wall where the pipe is located. Be careful not to place heat lamps too close to the wall or unattended, they may cause spontaneous fires. Leave your faucet in the “on” position, and once you hear running water, you’ll know the pipe is thawing.If the frozen pipe is located outside your home, or if it’s otherwise exposed, do not turn off the water supply to your home before you begin thawing the frozen pipe. You also should start the thawing process from the tap back to the frozen section. If you begin thawing behind the ice, the water that’s released will have nowhere to go because it will still be blocked by ice in the frozen pipe.
Be Prepared for Winter Plumbing Problems
Plumbing problems can occur at any time, but during the winter months you’re more apt to experience ice cold showers, leakage, freezing pipes and flooding. One of the most severe problems that occurs this time of year is frozen or burst pipes
, often with devastating results, e.g. flooding inside your home. Be prepared for the emergencies with these helpful tips.
Below are some tips to help reduce the chances of frozen or burst pipes:
- Insulate your plumbing pipes against freezing.
- Keep the doors inside your home open. This helps heat circulate through your entire home.
- If temperatures are expected to drop overnight, let the warm water drip, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall. Even a trickle of hot and cold water can prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- If you’re going out of town during the cold winter months, before you leave set the thermostat in your home no lower than 55F (12C) and ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing.
Here are some tips for dealing with plumbing emergencies:
- If you have a frozen pipe, turn off the main water supply by using the stop valve. This valve is usually located under the kitchen sink or in your basement at the water meter. Make sure to protect everything around the frozen pipe to avoid damage if it bursts. In this situation you need to thaw the pipe. First, open the tap nearest the part of the pipe you think is frozen. You’ll want to get water to flow through once it’s melted. Using a hair dryer, carefully thaw the ice in the pipe starting at the end closest to the tap. DO NOT use a heat gun or blowtorch.
- FACT: When water freezes in a pipe it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch, enough pressure to rupture most any pipe filled with water, providing no place for the ice to expand.
- A burst pipe can definitely be classified as an emergency, having the potential to cause serious damage to your home’s structure and electrical wiring. Keep the emergency number of a trusted plumber handy. When an emergency occurs you don’t have time to start searching for a plumber. (HINT: Check ahead of time about pricing, some plumbers may charge high hourly rates for emergency services.)
- When dealing with a burst pipe, turn off the water supply at the main valve. This may be located under the kitchen sink or in your basement at the water meter. Next, drain the system by turning on all your cold taps and flushing your toilets. Get a plumber out to your house as soon as possible to fix the damage.
- Remember plumbing problems can happen at any time but by being prepared you can prevent further damage to your home and save yourself an even bigger headache.