Luckily, I’ve never had to deal with freezing pipes. However, many families around the U.S. have had some experience over the past year. The Chicago Tribune notes that nearly 250,000 people in America experience flood damage caused by frozen pipes. If you live in a frigid climate, protecting your pipes this winter can prevent thousands of dollars of damage in your home. The best part is a lot of the fixes don’t take a lot of time or money to do.
Why Do Pipes Break
Plumbers note that pipes burst not because of the ice that formed in the pipe. Increased pressure between the ice and the faucet opening actually causes the breakage. The pressure can build up to thousands of pounds per square inch. Since most pipes can’t handle the pressure, they burst.
Preventing Ice From Forming In Your Pipe
Let the water drip
I’m really all about saving the planet, and I don’t really like the idea of letting a faucet drip water all night. But it is one option to keep your pipes from freezing. If you do opt to use this method put a bucket or a bowl under the faucet to capture the water that would go down the drain. You can use it for something else later, like boiling some noodles for dinner. At any rate, letting the water drip a little keeps pressure from building in the pipes and moving water doesn’t freeze as easily.
Wrap your pipes with extra insulation
Giving your pipes an extra layer of insulation will help keep the cold out. Wrap them up nice and cozy so they stay warm. Last year DTE energy sent us some pipe insulation tape. Your local energy company might offer a similar deal. If not, you can pick up some pipe insulation tape from the hardware store for just a few dollars.
Leave your cabinets open
On super cold nights, I remember my dad leaving the sink cabinets open so warm air could reach the pipes. Closing off pipes from access to warm air could lead you to trouble. This is the easiest thing you can do if you don’t want to spend the time or money wrapping your pipes up.
My Pipe Is Frozen! Now What?!
Tis tis… You didn’t follow the steps did you? That’s okay because if you caught a frozen pipe early you can melt the ice and reverse the potential for damage.
Turn off your water… NOW!
Turn your water off as soon as possible. Like now. Don’t even finish reading this until you shut your water off…Got it taken care of? Okay. Moving on.
Open the faucets
Water plus heat equals steam. To prevent a pipe from busting due to steam pressure, open the faucet that the pipe is linked to. This will let the steam and water to escape.
Grab a hair dryer
Once your water is off, grab a hair dryer or some kind of heating system. But do not use something like a blowtorch or anything with an open flame. You could do more harm than good to the pipe or accidently start a fire. Try thawing the area with something like a hairdryer.
Call a professional
If the ice doesn’t melt away or you are too late and your pipe bursts, call a plumbing professional in to help you out. It might cost you a bit of money to have them come to your house, but a $100 plumber bill sounds a lot better to me than thousands of dollars in water damage.
Preventing a pipe from freezing doesn’t take a lot of time, effort or money. For about $20 you can protect your plumbing system with insulation tape or you can just expose the pipes to the heat available in your home. Before the frigid arctic air sets in, take some time on your next day off to protect the pipes in your home. You’ll be happier spending a few dollars protecting them than thousands of dollars cleaning up after they break.