Brutally cold winters, with their plummeting temperatures, bring about a set of unique challenges for homeowners. Among the most pressing concerns is the risk of frozen plumbing. Frozen pipes not only disrupt water supply but can also burst, leading to potentially expensive water damage. With the right precautions, however, you can protect your plumbing system and save on potential repair costs.
1. Insulate Your Pipes
Why it’s Important: Pipes located in unheated or less insulated areas of your home, such as basements, attics, and garages, are most vulnerable to freezing.
Expert Tip: Use foam pipe insulation or heating tape to wrap these pipes. Ensure that the insulation covers the entire length of the pipe, from where it enters your home to where it exits. For those with limited DIY experience, consider hiring a professional to ensure proper insulation.
2. Seal Drafts and Leaks
Why it’s Important: Cold drafts can speed up the freezing process of your pipes.
Expert Tip: Examine your home’s walls, doors, and windows for any gaps or cracks, especially in areas close to pipes. Use caulk or weather-stripping to seal these gaps, ensuring that cold air stays out.
3. Let Faucets Drip
Why it’s Important: Keeping a slight flow of water can prevent pipes from freezing. The movement makes it harder for the water inside to freeze.
Expert Tip: On particularly cold nights, slightly open the faucets that are connected to vulnerable pipes. This steady drip can make all the difference in preventing frozen pipes.
4. Maintain a Consistent Temperature
Why it’s Important: Keeping your home at a steady temperature reduces the risk of pipes freezing.
Expert Tip: Set your thermostat to the same temperature during both day and night. While it might increase your heating bill slightly, it can prevent the much more expensive cost of repairing a burst pipe.
5. Disconnect Outdoor Hoses
Why it’s Important: Water trapped in hoses can freeze and expand, causing connected faucets and pipes to freeze as well.
Expert Tip: Before the onset of winter, disconnect, drain, and store any outdoor hoses. Also, close inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs and open the outside bibs to let any remaining water drain out.
6. Open Cabinet Doors
Why it’s Important: Pipes located under sinks, especially on exterior walls, can be at risk.
Expert Tip: On colder nights, open cabinet doors under sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate around the plumbing.
7. What to Do if Pipes Freeze
Why it’s Important: Swift action can prevent frozen pipes from bursting.
Expert Tip: If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Firstly, keep the faucet open. As you start to treat the frozen pipe, the flowing water will help melt the ice inside. Apply heat to the frozen section using an electric heating pad, electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials). DO NOT use an open flame, as it poses fire risks and can damage the pipes.
Warning: If you cannot locate the frozen section, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can’t thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber immediately.
Protecting your home’s plumbing system from the winter cold is not just about preventing inconvenience; it’s also about safeguarding your property from potential damage and avoiding substantial repair costs. With a bit of proactive care and vigilance, you can ensure that your plumbing system remains functional and intact throughout the Missouri winter.
Don’t Leave Your Plumbing to Chance This Winter!
At PrayCo Plumbing Heating & Cooling, we’re committed to ensuring your plumbing system is winter-ready. From professional pipe insulation to emergency response for frozen or burst pipes, our team has you covered. Schedule a pre-winter plumbing check-up with our experts today and secure peace of mind for the season ahead.