Winter can be an enjoyable time. Blankets of pristine snow covering the treetops can create a magical atmosphere, but winter also has a downside. If you live in a northern climate, you already know that winter can be be downright freezing and poses some common problems for your home. Frozen and burst pipes are one of them. According to State Farm Insurance, a quarter-million U.S. homes suffer from water damage from burst pipes each year. You don't want to be one of them. Here's how to prevent burst pipes and the resulting water damage this winter and what to do if you become another statistic.
Why do pipes freeze when it's warm inside?
You may have noticed that your pipes can sometimes freeze even when it feels warm inside your home. Most often, this is due to a tiny crack or hole in the foundation or outside walls near the pipes that lets cold air leak into your home. Although you may not feel it in the living sections of your home, the cold draft can cause the water in your pipes to freeze. Here are the most common areas where pipes freeze.
- Under Porches
- Unheated Floors
- Near Outside Walls
- At the Entry Point
What can you do to prevent the pipes from freezing?
There are a number of techniques to keep the pipes from freezing. The biggest preventive measure you can take is to seal holes and cracks that let in a cold draft in the winter. Check the entry point of your pipes from the well or water supply and make sure they are sealed properly. A tiny hole at the point of entry can wreak havoc with your pipes. Use sealant and/or insulation to keep cold air out. Likewise, check for cracks in the attic and insulate crawlspaces, under porches and under unheated floors. Other tips for preventing freezing pipes include:
- Use heating tape on susceptible pipes.
- Wrap the pipes with pipe insulation.
- Use a space heater to warm the area on cold nights.
Why do pipes burst?
Many people think that pipes burst because water expands when it freezes and are surprised to discover that the pipe typically bursts in an area where there is no ice. That's because the frozen water expands, causing immense pressure to build up between the frozen area and the faucet. Because the water in the pipe has nowhere to go (water in the pipe leading into the house can retreat through the pipe) the pressure causes the pipe to burst.
Will leaving the faucet running keep your pipes from freezing?
Many people leave their water faucet running or dripping during cold nights to prevent freezing. While it may not prevent freezing it, will relieve the pressure in the pipe if freezing occurs. That means you may have to contend with a frozen pipe, but you will greatly reduce the risk of dealing with a broken one.
What should you do if your pipe bursts?
Burst pipes call for quick thinking and quick action. Follow these guidelines for dealing with a burst pipe.
- Shut off the electricity to the area of the home at risk. This will prevent any mishaps or shorted out appliances.
- Shut off the main water supply. This prevents water from gushing into the pipe from the water supply when the ice thaws.
- Call your landlord or call in the professionals to repair or replace the pipe.
- Clean up the water before it freezes or causes water damage to your belongings. You may need a sump pump to get rid or excess water if the basement floods, but you can clean water from a burst pipe in the interior of the home with towels or other absorbent material. Carpets and furniture may require professional cleaning.
Taking preventive measures to avoid frozen and burst pipes goes a long way to avoiding problems during the winter. Make it a habit to check for cracks and holes where cold air can enter and repair them before cold weather strikes. If you need help handling the water damage, contact a local restoration company like Accutech Restoration.