The following article was submitted to our chapter by Jessica Cane of Federal Steel Supply, Inc. Given the crazy weather we've had here, I thought it might be relevant!
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
Taking steps to winter-proof a home and prepare for colder temperatures is a concern that no home or property owner can afford to ignore. Problems caused by pipes that have frozen or even burst can be both inconvenient and costly. Even the most basic efforts to protect pipes, plumbing and fixtures during periods of extreme cold can make a world of difference. Prevention efforts can often be accomplished for a fraction of the cost needed to deal with cleanup, repairs or the installation of replacement pipes.
Protecting Interior Pipes
The controlled environment and higher interior temperatures make it much easier to keep indoor pipes from freezing. Sometimes, just raising the thermostat is all that is needed to prevent interior pipes from freezing. Taking action to deal with colder weather and plunging temperatures can also provide pipes with an added degree of protection.
Cool air can become trapped inside of cabinets and under sinks and counters. Opening cabinet doors ensures superior air circulation and helps to promote the heat exchange needed to keep indoor pipes from freezing.
Close and Insulate Windows Near Pipes
Drafty windows near pipes can increase their risk of freezing as well as household heating costs. Replacing weather stripping, ensuring all windows are securely closed and even installing double-pane windows can make a real difference.
Wrap Pipes Located Near Exterior Walls
An added layer of insulation and thermal protection can be very beneficial. Pipes, joints and plumbing fixtures located close to an exterior wall often require a little extra insulation in order to keep from freezing.
Winterizing Exterior Pipes
Frozen and burst pipes are far more likely to occur in exterior environments where there is less protection from the cold. While homeowners may not be able to raise outdoor temperatures with the same ease as their interior environment, there are still several steps that may be beneficial.
Ensure Exterior Pipe is Properly Installed
Pipes that are too close to the surface are far more likely to suffer problems due to low temperatures. When possible, always ensure pipes are buried at the right depth during installation.
Install Exterior Faucet Covers
Faucet and pipe leaks that may be barely perceptible can still cause extensive problems in freezing temperatures. The installation of exterior faucet covers can minimize potential problems and help reduce the chance that pipes will freeze.
Seasonal and Long-term Preparation
Simply dripping interior faucets is often effective to prevent pipes from freezing in the short term, but more drastic measures may be required to protect your pipes and plumbing throughout the season. The following steps may be of benefit for ensuring an issue-free winter.
Shut off the Water Main When Leaving for an Extended Period of Time
Many pipes freeze when owners go on vacation or households are left vacant. Shutting off the water supply at the main can minimize the risk of a problem developing in your absence.
Seasonal Plumbing Inspections and Regular Maintenance
Professional services can be a key asset in the effort to protect your home and plumbing system. Arranging for a seasonal inspection of your entire plumbing system and keeping up with any maintenance that may be required are concerns that are too often overlooked.
Dealing with a Frozen or Burst Pipe
Taking prompt and effective action at the first sign of a problem can minimize damages and ensure speedier cleanup and service restoration. Homeowners who suspect a frozen pipe should call a professional without delay. When dealing with leaks or burst pipes, shutting off the water supply at the main should be done immediately. A professional inspection, emergency repair services and the maintenance tips that only an experienced service technician may be able to provide can spare homeowners the higher cleanup and repair costs needed to deal with larger and more extensive problems.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Federal Steel Supply, Inc., a leading supplier of carbon, alloy and stainless steel pipes, tubes, fittings and flanges.