Tips on Preventing Burst Pipes during Winter
Burst pipes can be quite an expensive dilemma for homeowners. Not only do you have to replace the damaged pipe, but you’ll also have to fix the resulting water damage due to flooding. Water damage can lead to structural issues as well as the possibility of mold growth.
As with a lot of things, preventing burst pipes is not only easier, but less expensive than repairing damage from a burst pipe.
Why do Pipes Burst?
Water has a very interesting property: it expands when frozen. When water is in an enclosed container, like a pipe, the expanding ice exerts pressure on the container. Whether your pipes are made from metal or plastic, there is only so much pressure it can take from the expanding ice before it breaks.
How to Prevent Pipes from Bursting
- Let the faucet drip – By keeping the water running in the system, you can prevent the water from freezing. Make sure to keep one or two faucets trickling when it is extremely cold. It is recommended to select a sink that is connected to an outside wall, like the kitchen sink. The increase in water consumption is better than paying for a burst pipe and all the trouble it brings.
- Install pipe insulation or heating products – Pipes can be fitted with insulating sleeves to reduce the risk of freezing. While simple to install on exposed pipes, it can get complex if walls, ceilings, or flooring will have to be removed to insulate the pipes. Another option is the use of heating tapes – some of which have to be plugged in. Some heating tapes can be dangerous when used in conjunction with insulation, though, due to the risk of making the insulation catch fire. If you decide to use heating tape, always follow the manufacturer’s instruction when doing so.
- Allow heat to circulate – If your pipes are in cabinets, like the kitchen sink or some bathroom sinks, it is a good idea to open the cabinet doors so that heat can get to the pipes. Seal any cracks found on outdoor walls since they may let cold air get to the pipes.
- Repair leaking pipes – Leaking pipes can indicate weak areas that can burst when they become frozen. It is recommended to have them repaired or replaced before they can become a problem later on.
- Shut off the water to external faucets – External faucets are prone to freezing and bursting. Shut off the water to them and drain them. Disconnect and drain any garden hoses or sprinkler systems.
- Keep heat constant – While it is usual to lower the thermostat in the evening, this can be disastrous when an unexpected drop in temperature causes your pipes to freeze and possibly burst. If you are leaving, keep the thermostat at around 50 degrees F.
Getting professional help to assess your pipes and advise you on how to keep your pipes from bursting is the best course for you to take. HandyCrew in Orange County, CA can help you with your plumbing needs, from installing insulation to repairing leaking or burst pipes. Our highly skilled contractors provide quality service that won’t leave you disappointed.