One of the most important ways you can protect your pipes this winter is by knowing how to prevent a pipe burst and precautions you can take. Many times, you may try to take action when it is too late. Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but your pipes will not freeze at that temperature. Most of the pipes in your home are protected by the same insulation protecting you and those in your home from the cold. So, on a day when the temperature is below freezing, it doesn’t mean that your pipes are in immediate danger of rupture.
For the water in your pipes to be at risk of freezing, the temperature outdoors needs to drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and remain there or below for six hours or more. The freezing point for pipes varies depending on how your home was built and the products used. Many homes in colder climates are outfitted with premium insulation and pipes made to withstand cold external temperatures. If you haven’t added these products to your home, there are still steps you can take to protect your plumbing system before the temperature drops outside.
Preventing a burst pipe comes down to prevention. There isn’t an efficient way to make the ground warmer during the winter, so much of your effort should be spent ensuring your plumbing system is in good shape and can withstand the temperature change.
Here are tips on how to prevent a pipe burst in the winter:
Leave Your Water Running Slowly
When the temperature drops outdoors, it’s wise to leave a couple of faucets dripping. By allowing water to continue moving through your system during the temperature drop, you can reduce the likelihood water will expand in your line and freeze.
Keep Your Pipes Warm
If you have pipes in colder or unused parts of your home, you should open up those spaces if they’re closed off. You need to get warm air to those areas, especially if they’re in basements, attics, or exterior walls with less insulation.
Open Your Cabinets
If your sinks have cabinets beneath them, open the doors to expose the pipes to the warm air in your home. Sinks placed on exterior walls are especially vulnerable to freezing, and warm air can give your pipes additional protection to fight off freezing temperatures.
Protect Your Outside Faucets
Many homeowners spend so much time worrying about the pipes inside their homes they forget about the ones outdoors. You should prepare your outside faucet for colder temperatures because if it freezes, it can break the entire fixture. Remove your hose from the faucet so that water can drain out of the hose bib. Leaving the hose connected can cause the trapped water to push back into the faucet and break.
There are plenty of products on the market that can help you prepare your plumbing system for dropping winter temperatures. Products like heat tape and precut foam pipe insulation can help you keep your pipes warm as the temperature drops. These are easy DIY projects that you can do quickly and cheaply, and they could help you avoid a burst pipe.
Keep Your Home Warm
After all your preventative measures, it would be a shame if your pipes still burst because you allowed the temperature in your home to drop too low. Keep your home sufficiently warm, and don’t let the temperature anywhere in your home drop below freezing. If you don’t want to warm the entire home, then make certain you keep areas near water lines comfortably above freezing. But, it’s best to keep the entire home heated because your plumbing lines will remain in better condition in a temperature-controlled home.
How To Tell If a Pipe Burst
Oftentimes, it may be too late to take precautions and you want to determine if you have burst pipes. Signs your pipes burst include:
- Mold build-up
- Water markings
- Water puddles are present
- Inconsistent water pressure levels
- Awful odors
- Water Bills HIgher than usual
Why Do Pipes Burst?
A burst pipe can be an expensive and destructive mess. For many homeowners, the experience of dealing with a frozen or burst pipe is frustrating and annoying because it feels like a preventable problem. So, what causes a pipe to burst, and how can you avoid needing pipe repair this winter? Essentially, a frozen pipe is not much different in concept from a can of soda that explodes in your freezer. Like your pipes, soda cans are designed to hold a specific volume of liquid. When liquid freezes, it expands and puts more pressure on a can or your pipe than it can handle. This steady pressure from the expanding liquid will eventually lead to a burst pipe or an exploded soda can. So, now that you understand how it happens, you can make significant changes to prevent it.
What if Your Pipes Freezes Anyway?
Even with the best prevention, your pipe could still freeze. If you suspect your pipe is frozen, contact a plumber immediately. You may still be able to save your pipes. If you think your pipe is frozen, start by inspecting your home for leaks. If you don’t see leaks in any of your spaces, but your pipe isn’t producing water when turned on, then your pipe may be frozen. A frozen pipe doesn’t always rupture, and a trained plumber can thaw your pipes and help you save your system. If you’re dealing with a burst or frozen pipe in Tulsa or surrounding areas, contact Wooten Knockout Plumbing at (918) 367-8887. Our skilled plumbers have experience dealing with burst pipes, and we can get your system operational in no time!