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How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Nick B

The cold time of year is upon us.  That means more coats, slicker roads, and for many, pipes frozen to the point of bursting.  The plumber’s life has turned into call after call about repairing plumbing systems destroyed at the hands of freezing temperatures, power outages, older pipes, and poor prep.  While this is good news for their wallets, many plumbers have offered advice to help prevent this from happening.  These top tips on how to prepare for, actively protect against, and handle frozen pipes are easy enough to do, but could end up saving homeowners lots of money.

 

Prepare

1) The first, and arguably most effective, strategy that can easily slip the mind is to insulate the home’s pipes.  When people go out into the cold, they bundle up, so treat pipes the same.  Older homes might not have high quality or any insulation depending on who built it, so it’s always a good idea to check.

2) Insulate the home.  Make sure drafts are addressed and any damage that occurred during the year is fixed up tight.  This will not only save money on heating, but fights against frozen pipes.

3) Install the thermostat away from the fireplace.  The perfect place during the summer can become the worst during the winter in a home that loves their fires.  Naturally fireplaces will warm up the area around it, leaving a thermostat thinking the entire house is that warm, and the heat doesn’t need to kick in.  Pipes not right next to the fireplace are then left out in the cold.

 

Protect Against

1) As mentioned above, checking for damage and drafts can save the day.  Homeowners should periodically check for drafts and damage that could have been caused by winter storms to stop small problems from becoming bigger.

2) During the winter homes should always be heated, even when the residents are not home.  If the family goes away for vacation it’s easy to think that lowering the temperature will save money, but if not monitored properly this could lead to pipes freezing and the opposite of savings.

3) Leave cabinet doors open as much as possible.  I know it’s not ideal to have all the kitchen cabinets with pipes inside them open, but at least when there isn’t going to be people around those should be left open so heat can circulate in there easily.

4) The old classic: leave the tap running at a trickle.  Moving water is much harder to freeze, so leaving both the cold and hot lines running can save a system’s pipes from freezing.  This is especially useful on faucets on outside facing walls that really feel the cold.

 

Handling It

1) First thing’s first, every homeowner should know where their shutoff valve is.  If a pipe freezes they are going to want to stop as much water as possible from coming out of it.  No one wants to clean up a flooded house in the dead of winter.

2) Call a plumber.  If there is any doubt in their ability to handle the situation, a homeowner should call a plumber to safely and efficiently fix the problem.

3) Stay in the home.  If water randomly stops flowing, that could mean that a line is frozen.  When the pipes do thaw the leak will need to be found as soon as possible.  An unchecked leak can ravage a home.

4) Thaw the pipes and find the leak.  The sooner the break can be addressed, the less catastrophic the damage will be.

5) Call a plumber!

 

So that’s it.  Following these top tips from plumbers can spare a home from a mid-winter flood.  If you need to make a repair on frozen pipes or any other job be sure to visit SupplyHouse.com for all of your plumbing, heating, and HVAC needs.

 

Posted in All Posts, How Tos + Tricks | Tagged , ,

2 Responses to How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  1. Bryan Sweeney says:

    In the spring of 2017, I purchased a three floor, single family brownstone in Boston as an investment property. A severe cold snap froze pipes (actually, PEX tubing) that were run in an outside wall cavity. Thankfully, my tenants were able to use a basement full bath to bathe, and the kitchen water supply didn’t freeze, so they could function somewhat normally until the cold snap abated. When the water flowed again, there were no burst tubes, and I installed a Taco HLS-2 Hot-Link System, a hot water recirculation system. This moves hot water through the hot water line to the highest floor and then returned through the cold water line. I programmed it to run every half hour and had no more pipe freezing issues. I installed it myself and the entire setup cost about $500.

    • Nick B says:

      Hey Bryan,
      That was a good solution! PEX is great with its ability to expand without breaking. Don’t want to push the PEX too much, so putting in that recirculator was a smart move.

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