Why Are Frozen Pipes a Problem?
There is a unique property of water that it expands when it freezes. Due to this expansion there is a lot of pressure on the containers like plastic or metal pipes. It doesn't matter what the strength of the pipe is, expanding water is powerful enough to break the pipes. The pipes that are exposed to extreme cold freeze frequently. These include outdoor hose bibs, supply pipes to swimming pools, and water sprinkler pipes. In addition, the water supply pipes in the unheated interior areas such as crawl spaces and basements, garages, kitchen cabinets, or attics can also freeze if they are exposed to extreme cold. The pipes that run against the exterior walls and have very little or absolutely no insulation can also get frozen.
Water Damage Because of Frozen Pipes:
The water damage because of frozen pipes is one of the most annoying issues a business owner or a homeowner could face during winters. When a water pipe bursts, the damage can spread quickly and it will continue to get worse until you take care of the problem. The damage from the burst frozen pipes can allow the water to flow in to the walls and ceilings of a building. Unfortunately, it may not get detected as fast as some other water issues and as a result the damage can spread.
When you discover the problem, you should immediately contact a reputable service of water damage restoration in order to reduce the damage and to restore the property. The water damage restoration experts have the necessary equipment and knowledge to dry out a home before mildew and mold start spreading.
Preventative Actions before the Winter Starts
Before the cold weather arrives, you should prevent the freezing of the water supply pipes by following the recommendations given below:
Drain the water from supply lines to water sprinklers and swimming pools following the directions given by the installer or manufacturer. Antifreeze should not be put in these supply lines unless instructions say otherwise. Antifreeze is harmful for the environment and is dangerous for landscaping, wildlife, pets and humans.
The hoses that are used outdoors should be removed, drained and stored. The inside valves that supply the outdoor hose bibs should be closed. Allow the water to drain by opening the outside hose bibs. The outside valve should be kept open so that the water remaining in pipe is able to expand without damaging the pipe.
Check other water supply lines located in the unheated areas, around the house. Look in crawl spaces, basement, attic, under bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and garage. Insulate the cold as well as hot water pipes in the areas mentioned above.
Consider installing the specific products that are made to insulate the water pipes. For example, "pipe sleeves" or installing the UL-listed "heat cable," "heat tape" or other similar items on the water pipes exposed to cold. Exposed pipes can get some level of insulation & protection by newspapers. Even 1/4" newspapers can give significant protection in the areas that usually don't have prolonged or frequent temperatures below the freezing point.
Preventative Actions During Cold Weather
Here are some preventative actions you should take during the cold weather:
The garage doors should be kept closed if water supply lines are present in the garage.
The bathroom and kitchen cabinets should be opened in order to allow the circulation of warmer air around plumbing. Don't forget to move any household chemicals and harmful cleaners out of children's reach.
During severe cold weather, allow the cold water to drip from faucets served by the external pipes. A great way of preventing the pipes from freezing is to run water through them; even a small amount can do the trick.
The thermostat should be kept at the same temperature during the night as well as the day. Temporarily suspend the usual lower temperatures during nighttime. It might increase your heating bill a little, but it will prevent the huge repair costs in case the pipes freeze.
In case you are going away for a few days during the cold weather, make sure the heat in the house is set to a temperature higher than 55 Â° F.
How to Thaw the Frozen Pipes
During the cold weather, if only few drops or a small amount of water comes out of a faucet once you turn it on; there is a good chance that the pipe is frozen. The most likely places for the frozen pipes are against the exterior walls or where the water service enters the home through foundation.
Turn on the faucet and as you start treating the frozen pipes, the water will start melting in the frozen area and it will flow through the frozen pipe. This running water will help melt the ice in the pipes.
Use electric heating pads by wrapping them around the pipe in order to give heat to the frozen area of the pipe. You can also wrap pipes with the towels soaked in some hot water, use electric hair dryer, or portable space heater (Keep it away from the flammable materials) in order to give heat to the pipe. Don't use a propane or kerosene heater, blowtorch, charcoal stove, or other devices with open flames.
Heat should be applied until the full pressure of water is restored. In case you can't locate frozen area, or can't access it, or in case you are not able to thaw the pipes, you should get the services of a licensed plumber.
Carefully check all the faucets in the house in order to see if there are more frozen pipes. In case you find one frozen pipe, there is a good chance that there are more frozen pipes.
You can take following steps in order to ensure future protection:
If possible, relocate the exposed water pipes to give greater protection against freezing.
Professionals can relocate the pipes during a home remodeling project.
Add insulation to crawl spaces, basements, and attics. Higher temperatures will be maintained by insulation in these areas.
You can get more information by contacting a building professional or a plumber.