Many areas are experiencing record cold temperatures right now. With temperatures this low, a host of problems can occur, including freezing pipes and potentially pipes bursting as a result. The last thing you want to experience right now is a water damage from a pipe bursting and a high repair cost bill!
Why Are Pipes Freezing?
Certain areas of your house/property may be more at risk than others for the water pipes to freeze. Most pipes that freeze are within cold, poorly insulated basements or crawlspaces. While it may be 65*F or warmer inside your house, it is almost always colder in the basement, and especially a crawlspace.
The city water line & the home’s water main usually do not freeze because they are somewhat “naturally” insulated by being deep enough underground.
*How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
Believe it or not, even the water in a pipe freezes, it doesn’t have to be a problem or result in the pipe bursting. As the water freezes, the ice can expand, putting pressure on the pipes. Areas like corners/junctions are particularly susceptible to the stress of expansion.
Essentially–as the ice expands, it is like trying to fit “more” water in the same amount of space…. Past a certain point, the pipes can’t take the pressure and rupture.
Allowing a faucet to drip will relieve the pressure! The ice can form, expand, and because the water has a place to escape “down stream” (the open faucet) you can help reduce the pressure build up and the risk of the pipe bursting!
What Else Can I Do?
Trying to keep cold basements warm can help reduce the risk of pipes freezing, but can be a challenge. Small space heaters can help, but you also need to consider the electric demands of using them, and the extra load that places on the utility companies. Many areas are already experiencing “rolling blackouts”, which is where they shut off power to certain areas for a window of time in order to keep up with the power demands of the region as a whole. Natural gas or propane heaters are a great option to help in this situation, but be sure to properly vent the exhaust gases if needed.
Use blankets, towels, and cardboard to help seal drafty areas and reduce the amount of warm air escaping and cold air coming in.
If a pipe DOES burst, locate the Main Water Shutoff valve for your house to stop the incoming flow of water, and call a plumber as soon as possible.