Frozen pipes are a reality for many homes and buildings, especially in temperamental weather. When water is frozen, it expands, cracking metal pipes and causing leaks. It can eventually lead to a blockage and halt access to water. Here's how to prevent this from happening and the signs to look for.
Preparation is essential. Crawlspaces should be insulated with foam, and the homeowners or renters should be able to locate the water shutoff valve in case of a leak or blockage.
Homeowners and tenants should have access to temporary patch kits to seal off any burst pipes until it is properly remediated.
Contact information for reliable plumbers should also be provided to homeowners and tenants.
Prevent frozen pipes by having your heat on. This can be especially helpful if you know that you are going to be away from the residence for some time.
It may be counter-intuitive for tenants, especially if they need to foot the costs.
You can persuade some residents to keep the heat on by informing them that it will prevent the pipes from freezing.
Bear in mind that in most jurisdictions, tenants have the right to not turn on the heat if they do not want it.
But if you can convince some tenants adjacent to the pipes to keep the heat on and keep it a steady 50°F, then you will notice that there will be much fewer incidences of structural damage to the pipes during the winter months.
Open doors can help prevent frozen pipes. Interior doors that are open are sometimes located along the pipes.
If ambient temperatures are warm enough, then it could keep the pipes above the freezing level.
Allow the faucets to drip slowly. A drippy faucet alleviates some pressure that builds up in the pipe over time.
Once the pipe is frozen, the pressure between the blockage in the faucet will cause it to burst.
An open valve prevents this pressure from building.
Heating tape can insulate pipes. For accessible pipes, an electrical heating tape may prevent freezing in a pinch.
Keep in mind that there are typically two types of heat tapes – one type that turns on and off by itself, and a secondary type that needs to be plugged and unplugged when not in use.
Use caulk. To stop a breeze on your pipes be sure to caulk any cracks and holes near the pipes. This will help insulate warm air and prevent pipes from freezing.
Applying additional insulation. In some older buildings and residences, pipes may be exposed to the elements, calling for additional insulation.
Pipes in attics and basements, for example, can be exposed to weather conditions that can facilitate not only freezing but erosion due to the constant dampness.
Foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves help decrease the chances of freezing.
Use space heaters efficiently. Space heaters can help jumpstart the effectiveness of insulation.
Simply by placing an electric heater near pipes when the temperature drops are enough to prevent most issues.
Turn off the water in the worst-case scenario. The main valve should be shut off while the house is unoccupied or when the homeowners are sleep.
If the water line is already frozen - Turn off the hot water line out of the water heater tank. Keep off until line unfreezes.
During the cooler months, remove, drain, and store any outdoor hoses. Open the outside bibs to allow the water to drain and keep the outdoor valve open so that any water in the pipe has room to expand.
This will help protect pipes from freezing and becoming damaged.
Symptoms of Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes can halt access to running water, potentially burst and not only cause structural damage but also physically danger tenants. There are several factors that you need to keep in mind when it comes to the potential for frozen pipes – southern climates and residences that aren't properly ventilated are vulnerable to frozen pipes, with pipes located in the basement or attic having an even greater tendency.
Usually, the first signs of a frozen pipe are visible frost on the pipe, with no water coming out of the faucets. If ambient temperatures are 31°F or lower, then you most likely have a frozen pipe. It's important to act quickly to thaw the pipe.
Get help with frozen pipe repairs or questions by contacting Deluxe Plumbing to mitigate frozen pipes.