Preventing the Winter Woe of Frozen Pipes

Ask anyone who lives in cold-winter climates about freezing pipes and you’ll usually hear a sad tale of woe of a burst water pipe. The worst thing about a busted pipe is the timing. Here you are at the end of a cold snap and “Ssssssssssss’ you hear the sound of water shooting out spray from one your pipes! Again, ask anyone who’s tried to deal with a burst pipe in freezing weather and you’ll hear more sad tales. Most people know at that point, it’s time to call in a professional. Of course, prevention of frozen pipes is the best way to bypass all the frustration. Some things to consider about frozen pipes: Did you know that leaving a faucet running will not prevent pipes from freezing? It’s true. But don’t let that bother you because there’s still a good reason to keep water on at a drip pace in a faucet. It will avoid a burst pipe once the weather warms up. Contrary to popular belief a frozen pipe does not have to result in a burst pipe. It’s all about pressure. When you leave your faucet open, pressure will not build up downstream from the point where the pipe has frozen. The pipes upstream of the freeze won’t have a pressure issue. So, once the temperature warms up the ice will dissolve and gently exit your faucet. However, if your faucet has been closed all that time, a great amount of pressure will have built up inside the pipe, and the chances of a burst pipe are high. Keeping your faucet on at a slow drip will waste some water but it’s a precaution worth taking. Become a Wrapper (yes, that’s with a “W”) Wrapping pipes exposed to cold weather is an excellent way to avoid frozen pipes. You can obtain the foam type material from any hardware store. The material usually comes in four foot lengths with a slit running long ways making it easy to slip over a pipe. You can also purchase more exotic products that involve a “blanket” over the pipe with an electrical device that will keep the pipe warm. However, most folks go with the simpler pipe foam cover to protect against freezing. Don’t forget about outside faucets. Even though they only protrude a few inches from your home, they can transmit cold throughout your pipe system. Again, you can get a cover for your faucet at your local hardware store. And the good news is they’re cheap! Avoid frustration with insulation If you’re home is a newer one (20 years or less) chances are that you have good insulation in your attic and crawlspace underneath your home. Also, most energy update packages offered by utility companies involve ensuring that adequate insulation for keeping the home warm is addressed. However, that doesn’t guarantee you that your pipes have not been forgotten. You might consider having a professional check your entire piping system for areas that added insulation would prevent freezing. You could also do it yourself, but be prepared to do some crawling. Too late, my pipe is frozen, what should I do now? Too often people try to thaw pipes with a gas torch or some other heat source. It’s dangerous and can result in much more property damage than a simple burst pipes. Save yourself, frustration and added expense and call a licensed plumber if you suspect your pipes are frozen and you’re worried they may or have already burst. Most companies will not be able to take the time to thaw them for you, but they may be able to help you understand how to cope with the predicament you are in. As an expert in Plumbing Bellingham WA homes, and long time area residents, we know that Winter can be a lot of fun. The best way to avoid the winter woes of frozen pipes is to prepare for the ‘deep freeze’ before it hits!

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