With winter slowly approaching it may be a good time to check your plumbing to prevent your plumbing pipes from freezing when the temperature starts to go down. When water freezes it will expand inside the pipes. When it expands enough it can cause the frozen pipes to burst resulting in serious damage to your home and plumbing. So it better to prevent frozen pipes with some DIY Plumbing then to have to call a plumber to fix them after they break.
The ice that forms inside the pipe does not normally cause the pipe to burst in that specific area where the blockage is occurring, but rather the pipe will break a little downstream between the blockage and a closed faucet in your kitchen or bathroom. When the water continues to freeze inside the pipes and the ice blockage expands, the water pressure in the sealed of section of the pipe between blockage and faucet will start to build up. When the water pressure gets to high this will lead to pipe failure.
The three most common causes of frozen pipes are: Quick drops in temperature, Insufficient insulation and a Thermostats that’s set too low.
Pipes that are adequately insulated and protected because they are located entirely withing your house’s insulation or by insulating the pipes themselves are usually safe. However pipes in attics, crawlspaces and in pipes located on the outside of the insulation of the exterior walls are vulnerable to freezing. Even more so when there are small holes or cracks that let cold air from the outside to flow over the unprotected pipes. Like holes in the outside wall for telephone or television lines.
Why Do Pipes Freeze
The water inside the pipe freezes when the heat of the water is transferred from the water to the surrounding (subfreezing) air. The best ways to keep pipes from freezing is to minimize or stop this transfer of heat by installing sufficient insulation and small holes and cracks should be sealed off to keep the cold air from entering the building and reaching the pipes. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
Pipes that are behind kitchen and bathroom cabinets are often more susceptible to freezing because the cabinets keep the warm inside air away from the pipes. When the temperature drops subfreezing it is best to keep the cabinets open so the war air inside the house can reach the pipes inside the cabinet to keep them warm.
Another way to avoid damage and freezing of your plumbing is to let faucets connected to pipes that are prone to freezing drip a little. Opening the faucets a bit they will prevent a pipe from bursting by letting the excessive pressure escape.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
Even if you’ve taken all the right preventative steps, extreme cold weather might still be able to harm your pipes. When you turn to open a faucet and you get no water from the faucet, then it is best to get the frozen pipes thawed as soon as possible to avoid any damage. If you don’t want to take any chances then call a plumber.
In the event that a water pipe burst, you should turn off the main water supply line, usually located near the water meter or where the main water line enters your home, and leave the faucets open.