5 ways to prevent frozen pipes (and what to do if they freeze anyway)
When winter hits, and subzero temperatures set in, making sure your pipes don’t freeze can be super important, especially if the wintry weather involves power outages. Frozen pipes can cause all kinds of issues, from cutting off your water supply, to bursting and water damage. Here’s five ways to prevent that from happening.
First, if you’re worried about your pipes freezing, especially if the power’s out, you can turn off the main water valve coming into your home. Then, you’ll want to run the water, and make sure all of the pipes are empty. Flush all of the toilets in the house. From there, use denatured alcohol, and pour it into the toilets and sinks in our home, to keep the water in the traps from freezing. Make sure not to use antifreeze, as it can contaminate drinking water.
If it’s going to get really cold, turn off your boiler, if that’s what you have, and empty the water in it through the valves. Make sure it has water in it before you start it back up.
If you have a guest or pool house, make sure the thermostat is set to 65 degrees. This should prevent the pipes from freezing in those outbuildings.
External walls in your home get much colder during the winter than internal walls. If you have plumbing running through the external walls of your home, you’ll want to make sure the walls are insulated. This will make sure that your pipes are protected from the cold weather. If you start seeing moisture, mold, or the walls feel cold to the touch, you may want to consider bolstering the insulation. Spray-foam insulation can provide added protection.
3. Snap-on Insulation
If you have piping that goes through uninsulated and unheated areas of your home, like crawl spaces or attics, you’ll want to consider snap-on insulation to keep those pipes protected. Heated plumbing tape can also be used, as it’s activated by cold weather.
4. Smart Tech
Installing smart technology, like “smart home” thermostats and low-temperature sensors can help keep your pipes running during cold spells. Permanent back-up generators are also a smart idea, especially when the power goes out.
5. Disconnect Outside Hoses
Frozen water in a hose can increase pressure on a home’s pipes, if it’s connected to an outside spigot. That’s why it’s important to disconnect hoses before the cold weather sets in. You’ll also want to turn off water to the spigots, and use a faucet insulator on them, in order to keep them in good working condition.
If the pipes do freeze, there are steps you can take to remedy the problem. First, keep your faucets open. As the frozen area begins to melt, water will run through the pipes, helping to melt the ice. Using an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater, towels wrapped in hot water, or an electric heating pad, apply heat to the pipe where it appears to be frozen. Be careful doing this, and don’t use propane or gas heaters, blow torches, or charcoal stoves. They’re all a serious fire hazard.
Water heater experts in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio
If you can’t figure out which pipes are frozen, or the pipe is inaccessible, it may require a licensed professional. For recommendations and a free estimate to get the water running again in your home, talk to the pros at Ohio Buckeye Plumbing. To schedule an appointment, call (440) 283-9377.