Water expands as it freezes. Therefore, no matter what type of pipes, plastic or metal, they are at risk of freezing up when facing specific circumstances, such as freezing temperatures and more. Thankfully, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to prevent this type of situation from occurring and also prevent the damage that will occur when pipes inevitably burst. Read on to learn more about freezing pipes and how to prevent them from our experts at Comfort Systems:

What Causes Pipes to Freeze?

There are several conditions or factors that can cause your pieces to freeze. However, the primary causes include the following:

  • A water supply pipe that is in unheated interior areas like garages, attics, crawl spaces, basements, or kitchen cabinets.
  • Pipes that are exposed to severe cold. This can include water sprinkler lines, swimming pool supply lines, or outdoor hose bibs.
  • Pipes that are located against exterior walls and have either little or no insulation.

How to Counteract Freezing Pipes

Although you can’t change the physics of cold weather causing water to freeze, you can take some steps to prevent freezing pipes, even in cold weather. Therefore, before temperatures dip too low and water within your pipes becomes at risk of freezing solid, consider taking the following steps:

  • Remove, drain, and store outdoor hoses during the coldest months. Close the inside valves that go to outdoor hose bibs, then open the outside bibs, allowing them to drain. Leave the outside valve open so that any remaining water that is still in the pipe has room to expand without causing a pipe break.
  • Drain water from water sprinkler supply lines or swimming pool lines as outlined by the installer or manufacturer’s directions. Be aware that although some homeowners might attempt to put antifreeze in these lines instead of going through the trouble of draining them for the offseason, this is not advisable. Antifreeze is harmful to the environment overall and particularly dangerous for wildlife, pets, and even humans.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes that tend to freeze no matter the steps you take at prevention.
  • Insulate basements, attics, and crawl spaces. Insulation will help to maintain higher overall temperatures, and, in many cases, prevent pipes from freezing. For even more protection, consider installing insulation designed for your pipes directly to them. There are many options like heat tape, heat cables, or pipe sleeves. Make sure you insulate both hot and cold water supply lines.

Other Steps to Take to Prevent Freezing Pipes

In addition to insulation and relocating pipes that tend to freeze, you can also prevent freezing pipes by doing the following when outdoor temperatures dip low enough to risk having water freeze inside your pipes:

  • Close garage doors when water supply lines are located within.
  • Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors, which allow the warm temperatures inside the house to circulate around your plumbing. (make sure to remove any chemicals that might be stored in these spaces to protect children and pets)
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet when it is particularly cold outside. Even a small drip, no more than a trickle, can keep water moving through pipes enough to prevent them from freezing.
  • Keep your indoor thermostat set high enough. Though you might save some money on your power bill by setting the thermostat lower when you are sleeping, you can incur a great expense if your pipes end up freezing and bursting. If you are not at home, set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.

What To Do If You Find Yourself Facing a Frozen Pipe

If you suspect you might be experiencing a frozen pipe, keep the connecting faucet open, as the water within can sometimes melt as more and more water flows through the area. You can apply heat to your pipe directly as well, via a hair dryer, electric heating pad, or more. Do not use a charcoal stove, open flame, a kerosene heater, or a blowtorch. Check all your pipes after finding one is frozen to ensure that there is no other frozen pipes in your home.

Contact us Today

If you want to prevent pipes from freezing as temperatures plummet, it just takes some planning ahead and preventative measures in many cases. However, if all your effort still isn’t enough, it’s time to call us as Comfort Systems where we offer 24-hour emergency service to address all your plumbing needs. We are happy to speak with you about preventing frozen pipes or help you deal with an existing problem. Contact us today to learn more.