Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes
Cold temperatures can freeze the water pipes of your house. Frozen pipes develop a lot of pressure, putting them at risk of bursting. Generally, pipes start freezing when the temperature drops down to 32°F or lower.
Your pipes may be prone to freezing even if you do not live in a colder region. The pipes installed in attics, crawl space, or the basement of your house are more likely to freeze since these areas are colder than other parts of the home. You should pay special attention to these areas while taking precautions to prevent frozen pipes.
1. Turn on the faucet to drip
Open the faucet fed by the frozen pipe so that it drips slightly. Allowing the faucet to drip will prevent the pressure from building up and keep the pipe from bursting. If the faucet is connected to warm and cold water pipes, you can open both taps slightly.
2. Apply heat
You can use a portable space heater, electric heating pad, or wrap towels soaked in hot water around the pipes. Setting the heat above 50ºF is a good idea if you use a heater. This will provide enough heat to the pipes and prevent them from freezing. However, do not use a blowtorch, a propane or kerosene heater, or any open flame-generating device. Such devices can damage the pipes or even cause a fire.
3. Seal the holes and cracks
The cold air blowing in through small cracks or holes can also freeze your pipes. If you see any gaps around the areas where pipes run through floors or walls, seal them. You can use spray foam insulation or caulk to fill these gaps. Remember to use caulk for half-inch wide cracks and never apply it over dust. If possible, try to fix the cracks on both your wall’s interior and exterior sides.
4. Use table salt
If you wonder how to thaw a frozen drain pipe, use salt (NaCl). You can use any of the following methods:
- Dissolve a half cup of salt with hot water and pour it down to your drain pipes.
- Pour salt down the drain and wait for it to sit.
- Pour boiling salt water down the drain pipes to melt the ice.
5. Heating Tape
A heating tape works like an electric blanket to the pipes. There are two types of heating tapes; one is automatic that turns on or off by itself as per the heat requirements. The other kind does not have an on/off switch; you should plug and unplug it.
Such heating tapes are reasonable solutions for those sections of pipe that are at a high risk of freezing. Like a space heater, this product can also be dangerous. So, we recommend you follow the user manual and safety procedures.
6. Keep the cabinets open
In a house, pipes are often placed in the cabinets. So, when the temperature starts dropping down, it’s better to open those cabinets. It would help if you also kept interior doors open during such time so that the heat flows throughout the home.
7. Add Insulation
Areas in the house such as basements or attics do not have proper insulation, so the pipes located in these areas may need extra insulation to keep warm. Insulation helps keep a pipe closer to the actual water temperature inside the pipe.
However, it does not add any heat, and if your pipe has been exposed to prolonged freezing temperatures, it will not prevent freezing. You can also add foam rubber or fiberglass insulation to your pipes to decrease the chances of freezing. Additionally, insulation can be added to ceilings and walls to keep the pipes warmer.
Signs of frozen pipes:
It can be a warning sign of having frozen pipes in your home, if:
- You see frost on the pipe’s exterior, such as under-sink pipes.
- Slight trickle or no water is running out of the kitchen or bathroom faucet.
- An odd smell is coming from a faucet tap or drains.
Once you find out that a pipe is frozen and a plumbing emergency occurs, quickly take measures to thaw that pipe. If you have a home warranty that covers your house’s plumbing system, quickly place the service request. A licensed plumber or technician will be at your place to thaw the pipe for you. To carry out the process smoothly, you would be required to pay him a service fee of around $50 – $125, depending on your decided plan. Since a frozen pipe has the potential to burst and damage your home, it’s important to thaw it as soon as possible.
You cannot prevent freezing winters, but you can protect your pipes from it. So follow the precautions as mentioned above and tips to keep the water running and your home dry.