Pacific Sheet Metal Blog

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes in the Winter

Posted by Joey Haack on Jan 16, 2018 9:14:00 AM

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Frozen pipes can burn a very large hole in your pocket. The best option is prevention. Make sure your pipes are prepared now so you don’t end up with a disaster on your hands later. Burst pipes can result in homeowners having to replace their entire system in some instances. Don’t let this happen to you. Prevent your pipes from freezing by making sure they’re well insulated and your home is kept at a safe temperature all winter long—even if you leave for an extended vacation.

 

When do pipes freeze?

Pipes can freeze when the outdoor temperature dips below freezing if they aren’t protected. Especially if you live in a colder climate or you experience below freezing temperatures anytime throughout the year, you need to make sure your pipes are taken care of and given the protection they need. Common reasons for freezing pipes include

  • Poorly insulated areas throughout your home, which often includes crawl spaces, attics, and garages
  • Turning the thermostat too low or turning the heat off completely

 

Why do pipes sometimes burst?

If your pipes freeze, they’re at risk for bursting as well. When water freezes, it expands and can create a blockage inside your pipe. As this builds up and water can’t flow through, the pressure inside the pipe builds until it gets to be too much. It can then crack, and water can spill out, causing extensive water damage.

 

How can I protect my pipes so they don’t freeze?

Prevent frozen pipes by making sure they’re equipped to handle the cold. Look for any exposed pipes in unheated parts of your house and near exterior walls, and wrap them in foam insulation or heat tape. It’s also a good idea to seal any cracks or holes throughout your home to prevent cold air from entering and making it warmer overall.

Also check your outdoor plumbing, like faucets. If you don’t unhook, drain, and safely store your garden hoses during the winter, you not only risk destroying the hoses but interior pipes in your home as well. Water that freezes inside an attached hose can cause a blockage, creating pressure on your plumbing system. Detach and safely store your hoses and close the shutoff valve that leads to your outdoor faucets. Once this is off, drain any water left inside the spigot. You can also add insulating faucet covers for protection.

 

What should I do if I leave for vacation?

If you leave your home for the winter, your first instinct may be to shut off the heat. No one’s going to be home using it so it’s a complete waste of money, right? Wrong. Never set the temperature below 55 °F. If you live in a region with an extremely cold climate, you may need to keep it higher than this to be safe.

Open cabinet doors before you leave to allow warm air to circulate warm around pipes under sinks in bathrooms and kitchens. If the outdoor temperature is very low, you can open a faucet slightly to prevent pressure buildup inside a pipe and to prevent the pipe from freezing. Another option is turning off your main water supply before you leave home.

 

If you'd like to have your plumbing system checked before you leave town this winter, you have a current plumbing problem you need help with, or you face an emergency situation at any time, call Pacific for help! We serve Carbondale, Aspen, and the surrounding communities, and our plumbing contractors are ready to assist.

 

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Topics: plumbing