While it may not feel cold in Atlanta yet, Winter is only a handful of weeks away! Leaves are turning gold and red, while temperatures should be dropping by the start of October. The first frost will be here before you know it!
With freezing temperatures on the horizon, it’s time to start getting prepared for cold weather. Warm coats and firewood are seasonal must-haves. But what about the pipes in your home? Frozen water can easily rupture any type of piping, causing flood and water damage to your home. Here’s a handy guide on how to prevent frozen water pipes.
Pipes at Risk
It’s easy to forget the hidden network of pipes which keeps water flowing to kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, water heaters, and more. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to prevent frozen water pipes.
Some piping is more at risk than others. The pipes most at risk include:
- Piping in exterior-facing walls, where there isn’t much insulation
- Piping in crawlspaces, attics, and other unheated areas
- Water sprinkler supply lines
- Pool or hot tub supply lines
- Outdoor hose faucets
- Outdoor water meters
While these are at a higher risk for freezing, the pipes in your kitchen and bathroom sinks can freeze as well. Take precautions on the coldest nights to avoid burst pipes!
How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes
It only takes one frozen patch to rupture a pipe, and not all piping is going to be accessible. While this seems like an impossible situation to fix, don’t worry! There are plenty of options available to you.
Accessible Piping: If your pipes are in a crawlspace, attic, basement, or other location you can reach, you can try one – or a combination of – the following options.
- Place a space heater near the piping in danger of freezing. Don’t use any open sources of flame, though!
- Install “pipe sleeves”, or a similar product like ‘heat cable’ or ‘heat tape’, which is designed to insulate exposed piping.
- A ¼” layer of newspaper can also help prevent water from freezing.
- Open cabinet or utility doors to keep air circulating from warmer parts of the house.
- Leave the heat on in the home if you plan to be out of town, and set the system to the lowest setting available.
- If you have one, point a heated lamp towards exposed piping to keep the pipes warm.
- Turn on faucets to a slow trickle overnight. While it may seem wasteful, this will help maintain pressure inside your pipes so that they do not rupture.
TIP: Don’t leave space heaters or heated lamps on and unattended overnight! They can be a fire hazard.
Inaccessible Piping: If your pipes are under the lawn, part of an outdoor plumbing system, or simply in an area you cannot reach, these options can help!
- Drain your pool, hot tub, or sprinkler system, and leave the taps open so that any remaining water has room to expand.
- Turn off the water supply to your outdoor hose, and keep the tap open so that the pipe can expand without breaking.
- Keep your garage door closed if you have pipes in the garage’s walls.
- Keep your basement heated to protect as much piping as you can.
- Close windows, and cover any outdoor vents to keep the heat in.
TIP: If you’re planning on leaving your home for an extended period of time, you can shut off the main water supply and drain your entire house’s plumbing system.
How to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes
If you’ve turned on your tap and a slow trickle – or worse, nothing – comes out, then you may have a frozen water pipe. Here are some tips on how to thaw your frozen pipes.
- Use a hair dryer to heat accessible piping. Be cautious, though – don’t use any electrical appliances if standing water is present.
- Start the heating process nearest the faucet. Turn on the tap so that newly-thawed water can escape, releasing pressure on the system.
- Apply heat to the frozen section of pipe, if possible. Try a heating blanket, heating pad, hot water bottles, or towels soaked in hot water. Don’t use an open source of flame.
- Apply heat until the water in your faucet flows normally, and then leave the faucet open to a slow trickle to prevent the pipe from re-freezing.
You’ll want to check the other faucets in your home. If one pipe froze, then it is possible that other pipes have frozen as well.
What to Do if Frozen Water Pipes Have Burst
If your frozen pipes have burst, and your property is flooding, call Tidal Wave Response at 770-693-4568! Our Emergency Response team guarantees to be at your Metro-area property in 30 minutes or less. While our skilled serviceman is on the way, you can stop further damage by cutting off the main water supply if possible, and remove your valuables to a safe and dry location.