When it comes to home repair, fixing a burst pipe is one of the most frustrating tasks. It costs money, time, and the painful effort of crawling into some tight space to reach the pipe. Unfortunately, as winter moves in and temperatures plummet, many homeowners will find themselves in that exact situation. Some water supply lines in the crawl space, garage, or attic will freeze, causing the water to expand and burst the pipe.
Anyone would agree—prevention is better than repair. Most homeowners would opt for an afternoon of preparation over weeks of expensive plumbing repair. Listed below are five ways you can prevent the pipes in your home from freezing this winter season.
Water pipes behave the same way as your bedroom: without insulation, it gets pretty darn chilly inside. Call in some insulation experts to survey all the exposed pipes in the unheated areas of your home, and buy fitted foam insulation for those that aren’t protected. If it is the correct size, the foam should snap neatly into place. Apply miter foam around the elbows and wrap duct tape around the joints to ensure maximum protection.
Another insulation option is heat tape controlled by a thermostat. While heat tape is rarely needed outside of extremely cold climates, it may be something to consider for particularly exposed pipes in homes close to the Cascade or Olympic mountain ranges where the temperatures drop to well below freezing in mid-winter.
Drain and Disconnect
Because outdoor water systems lead back to the house, it is important that you prepare them just as carefully as the pipes inside.
First, disconnect your garden hose and put it away for the winter. If the hose freezes while connected to the house facet, it will expand and force pressure back into the interior pipe system. This can cause far more havoc than just a burst hose!
Once the hose is disconnected and stored away, close the shut-off valve leading to that faucet and drain the spigot. Then swing by your local hardware store and pick up a facet insulator. Attach this to the faucet exterior.
Heat Your Home
It’s tempting to turn the furnace down or even off when you leave the house, especially when you’re leaving town. This creates a problem, however, as you don’t have warm air circulating through the house, keeping the water supply lines warm. We recommend keeping the furnace above 55 degrees. A little extra on your energy bill is preferable to a lot of extra money for plumbing work.
Check Your Walls
There’s a chance that in the past pipes have frozen in exterior walls. Mold, water damage, and excess moisture are all indications that this may have been an issue for the previous owners—or even you last winter. This is likely due to not having enough insulation in the wall. Before this winter fully sets in, you may want to have suspect walls inspected and re-insulated.
Monitor Your Pipes
By this point, you have made some important strides in preventing frozen pipes. The only thing left is to keep an eye throughout the winter, monitoring the state of all the pipes you worked so hard to prepare. If, for some reason, a pipe does happen to freeze, there are a few actions you can take:
- Wrap an electric heating pad around the frozen pipe.
- Use a hair dryer or portable space heater. Warning: do not use these methods around flammable items or standing water.
- Begin warming the pipe nearest to the faucet.
- Turn on the indoor faucet on low as you heat the pipe. Water flowing through the line will help melt the ice, and will also alert you once it is returned to full pressure.
Attic and Crawl Space Professionals
We hope this article helps you avoid any winter damage to your home. If you need attic, crawl space, or air duct assistance, the trained experts at Clean Crawls are ready to help. Our highest priority is making your home healthy, clean, and efficient, and our team of BPI certified professionals are dedicated to making that happen.