How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Winters in Winston-Salem are cold, especially during the month of January when temperatures plummet well below freezing at night. When temperatures dip down to the mid-20s, staying warm becomes a top priority for everyone. However, the home needs the same protection when it is cold outside.

Frigid temperatures cause a slew of problems inside the home, specifically with the plumbing system and pipes. Unprotected pipes are prone to freezing and may even burst in worst-case scenarios, resulting in a big mess during an already frustrating time. Frozen pipes may also occur with protections in place but the odds drop considerably.

Protecting pipes against the cold weather certainly is more favorable than repairing the damage left behind after they freeze. It may seem challenging, but preventing pipes from freezing is more than possible.

Are Your Pipes Frozen?

Suspect the pipes are frozen? If you turn on the faucet and water does not come out, the pipes are likely frozen, but there are a few things that you can do to make sure. Often, the pipes make gurgling-type noises rather than produce water when we turn on the faucet if they are frozen. Before panicking, make sure that the water has not been turned off. This happens more often than we realize. If the water is still on, make sure there isn’t a leak somewhere.

If these two steps do not reveal the source of the problem it is safe to say that your pipes are frozen.

What now?

You can do one of two things:

  • Thaw Pipes: Thawing pipes yourself sometimes works and sometimes causes more problems. It’s usually time-consuming as well.
  • Call a Plumber: Calling a plumber saves time and money, eliminating the amount of time you are stuck with this frustrating problem.

Frozen Pipe Solutions

If you’ve never dealt with frozen pipes before, leave the job to the pros instead. This is not the time to test your DIY skills, that is for sure. However, there are several quick-fixes anyone can try before phoning a plumber. Keep these tips in mind if you attempt to thaw pipes yourself.

  • Keep the faucets turned on as you work on the pipes. If the water starts unfreezing it needs an opening to run out. This expedites the thawing process and reduces the risks of damage.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. There are a few ways to apply heat to the area. Most people use heat wraps sold at home improvement stores, although using a hairdryer is not as uncommon as you might think!
  • Always keep safety in mind as you work to thaw the pipes. Never use propane or torches near the pipes. Space heaters warm up the area but can also cause a fire. Keep them a safe distance away from the pipes.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe until it thaws. This can take several hours in some cases, especially if the home is not well-insulated.
  • Check for other frozen pipes after unthawing the initial pipe. Although most issues affect only one area of the plumbing system, this is not the case every time.
  • Take note of the location of the frozen pipe. Immediately phone a plumber if the frozen pipe is located within an exterior wall. This is a dangerous situation that requires professional assistance.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

If you cannot change the weather, take action against freezing weather by protecting your pipes. The following tips help prevent the pipes from freezing and the damages they cause.

  • Disconnect hoses from exterior pipes and cover them with insulation. Drain all water sources as well, including swimming pools.
  • Seal any cracks in the walls.
  • Close the garage doors. Keep the doors closed at all times during winter if they are not in use.
  • Keep kitchen cabinets open to allow heat to reach the pipes.
  • Do not set the thermostat or allow temperatures in the home to dip down below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature day and night which also reduces the risk that pipes will freeze.
  • If the temperature is set to plummet to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, leave the cold water dripping in the faucets which can help circulate warm water through the pipes. Leave the faucets dripping until temperatures rise above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Seal windows and doors if they’re not sealed already. Even small cracks between the seal can let in enough cool air that pipes freeze at a more rapid rate.

The Insurance Institute for Business Safety estimates that repairs to frozen or burst pipe damage can cost more than $5000. Reduce the risk of frozen pipes or burst pipes this winter by heeding the above tips. Call Bodenheimer Plumbing Services of Winston-Salem if you need additional help after frozen pipes damage your home.

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