When temperatures drop, many homeowners grow concerned for the water pipes in their home. At Clean Crawls, our experience with crawl space and attic restoration tells us that this concern is not unwarranted, especially in the crawl space.
Because a crawl space is partially exposed to the environment through air vents, even a brief cold snap can freeze the water in the pipes under your home. However, while most homeowners take preventative measures before temperatures drop below freezing, many don’t take the proper precautions and end up dealing with burst pipes anyway.
Here are a few incorrect solutions, followed by our recommendations for how you can truly keep your pipes intact this winter.
Common (and Incorrect) Methods of Preventing Water Pipes from Freezing
There are a number of quick fixes and ideas on how to prevent pipes from freezing. Unfortunately, many of these quick fixes may work temporarily, but they can cause greater problems in the long run. Also, in the Pacific Northwest, we have an entirely different type of temperate climate from other areas in the Midwest and southern west coast. This means that what might work in Wisconsin, won’t necessarily work in Washington.
Listed below are a few incorrect solutions that we’ve seen homeowners attempt in the past.
Closing the Air Vents
While this seems to be a logical step to prevent the outdoors from getting indoors, in our humid temperate environment, this is a recipe for moisture buildup. This can cause wood rot and mold, damaging the structural integrity of your home.
Allowing the Faucet to Trickle
While this may work for a mild cold snap, a hard freeze will only cause a bigger problem. The trickling water will build up in the areas of pipe exposed to the extreme cold, and this frozen water can cause the pipes to crack, split, or simply block your plumbing until it thaws.
Using a Light Bulb
In some cases, a light bulb can be used to protect a certain problem area on the pipe. Common areas of freezing are the tight spots, such as elbows and reducers. However, you can’t light your entire pipeline — and you may not be able to place the light close enough to the pipe to effectively prevent freezing.
Insulating the Vents and Pipes with Foam
Wrapping pipes and vents with insulation can be a good solution, but it can also be hazardous for homes in the Seattle area. A humid climate and fluctuating temperatures in an exposed crawl space mean that it is easy for pipes to gather condensation. Trapping this moisture under insulation can lead to mold growth, and it may encourage floor-joist and structural decay.
Of course, there are ways to wrap and insulate your pipes correctly, but we recommend calling a crawl space professional for the job. At Clean Crawls, our experienced team is familiar with every aspect of the home insulating process. We are able to prevent your pipes from freezing without inviting mold, mildew, and decay into your home.
Our Solution to Frozen Pipes
At Clean Crawls, we believe that an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a pound of cure. When it comes to crawl space care, our crawl space experts recommend insulating the entire space, as well as installing a moisture barrier.
Why is this important?
Pipe and Vent Protection
When the crawl space is insulated, it stays at a temperature closer to that of your home interior. This diminishes any chance of freezing pipes, and it also prevents condensation build up from spikes and drops in the temperature. Moisture prevention keeps your home safe from decay and mold.
Our crawl space insulation experts don’t just pay attention to the walls and floor joists above — they are also trained to properly insulate pipes and maintain vents to encourage maximum heat retention and safety.
An insulated crawl space helps prevent air transfer in your home. If you’ve noticed your lower level floors are cold to the touch, you can be sure that chilly drafts are making their way throughout your home, driving up energy bills.
Keeping your home comfortable and warm is far easier when you have a properly insulated crawl space. The floors will stay warmer, you will notice less temperature change from room to room, and you will find it easier (as well as cheaper) to maintain a consistent, comfortable temperature overall.
What to Expect With Our Insulation Services
When our team of crawl space professionals arrives at your home, their first task is to inspect and thoroughly clean your crawl space. They will remove any old or damaged insulation, throw out any debris, and clean every area that shows signs of mold or animals. They will also inspect your beams and joists to ensure there is no moisture damage or wood deterioration.
Next, our team will install a vapor barrier over the floor of your crawl space. This barrier prevents moisture buildup from the ground, trapping it beneath the plastic where it can be reabsorbed into the earth or cement. Large amounts of water (such as mild flooding in the spring season) are funneled away to your drain.
Finally, we will install the insulation. We will work with you to determine the best insulation type for your home and budget. We recommend closed cell spray foam insulation, foam board, or fiberglass insulation for the crawl space. This will be placed on the walls along the floor joists. Your pipes and vents will also be wrapped if necessary.
With the help of our Clean Crawls insulation team, you no longer need to worry about frozen pipes over the winter. Your pipes will be safe, your home will be warmer, and you will save on monthly energy bills. Call us today to get a free quote.