Cold and warm seasons come with their advantages and disadvantages too. During cold seasons, most people live indoors trying to make themselves cozy. However, when it turn out to be icy, your home plumbing systems may develop problems due to freezing. Ideally, freezing of plumbing pipes not only causes inconveniences due to drainage problems but also a loss of money to fix the problem.
If your pipes are poorly insulated or over insulated, they become prone to freezing in low temperatures. Mostly, due to the freezing of your pipes, water flow may be restricted or blocked due to the formation of an ice block which prevents the flow of water. However, if you’ve not thawed your pipes after noticing they are freezing, you could end up with a cracked pipes, leakages at joints or even bursts at the seam points. This could lead to more damage if the problem is not fixed immediately.
In other instances, you may not see any damages on the pipe until the temperature rises or the pipe is heated. After the ice melts, the water inside the pipe will start flowing again, and if the pipe expanded and cracked or leaked, you will be able to see drips or even torrents of water after some time.
The most vulnerable areas of your home
In a home, there are areas where pipes are prone to freezing due to their exposure. Mainly, the pipes which are found within exterior walls are very prone to freezing because these areas have very low temperatures during winter and probably these pipes are uninsulated. Also, swimming pool supply pipes found outside, pipes found in unheated garages, crawl spaces, basements and hose fittings are also likely to freeze when temperatures fall. Those pipes found inside the warmth of your home are least likely to freeze since temperatures are not too low. However, if you leave your home for many hours or you are on vacation, these pipes may also freeze as the temperature is not regulated in your house.
Step by step guide how to resolve the problem
a. If you happen to turn your faucet on after a period of low temperatures and little or no water flows out, you should suspect frozen pipes. The first thing to do should be locating the frozen section to proceed. Therefore, you should start checking under your kitchen sink because it might be the source of water into your house. Alternatively, you can check under your bathroom sink to see whether you will find the frozen section.
b. If you are not able to locate the frozen section, you can hire services from a professional plumber after the weather warms up. However, you should be very keen to identify leaks, cracks or running water if you wait for the pipes to thaw. If you are not cautious, water may run into the wall, basement, and crawlspace area or under your kitchen sink after ice melts and your pipes had a crack or a leaky joint. Taking necessary precautions can help you avoid water damage or any other associated damage.
c. As a precautionary measure, you should locate the main water supply to the house. This could be very helpful because you need to shut off the main valve if you see or hear water gushing from a burst pipe after thawing to minimize water damage. In fact, you might testing whether the main valve is working before ensure that it works effectively when the need arises.
d. If you were able to locate the frozen pipe, you could start thawing it to melt the ice. When heating the pipe cautiously, you should open the nearest faucet to enable water to flow out as soon as ice starts to melt. Also, you should heat the pipe evenly and not at only one particular point to melt most of the ice.
e. To heat your pipe, you should be cautious, and if you don’t know how to do it, you should inquire help from professionals to avoid amplifying the problem. Ideally, you ca`n use a portable heater to thaw a frozen pipe. Additionally, a heated hair drier is also very good in melting ice in frozen pipes. Additionally, you can opt to use a hot wet towel where you wrap it around the frozen area of the pipe. This is a safer method because ice melts slowly and you can be able to handle water flow as ice melts. However, you should reheat the towel frequently during thawing process to successfully melt the ice. Never use an open flame to heat your frozen pipes!
How to prevent freezing of pipes
There are several steps you can take to prevent your water pipes from freezing during cold seasons:
a. You can keep your cabinet doors open near your sink area in your kitchen to avoid cold temperatures. Additionally, you can have a heater around that area to warm up the pipes. However, as a precautionary measure, you should remove harmful chemicals from your cabinets to avoid their accessibility by your children. Also, you should remove flammable cleaners from the cabinets.
b. Keeping your faucet dripping could be another way of preventing your pipes from freezing and blocking. If you, however, worried about water wastage, you can collect the drips with a container for later use.
c. It is advisable to leave your thermostat set at a steady temperature throughout the day and night too. That said, if you use wood heat, you should stock your fire before sleeping to keep temperatures constant in your house throughout the night.
d. In case you must be away from your home for a long time, you should take necessary measures to maintain temperatures in your home to about 55 ⁰C. However, if you are out on vacation, you can shut off the main water valve into your house, drain dishwashers and laundry appliances to ascertain that your water pipes don’t have any water. Also, you can have a friend, relative or neighbor checking your home from time to time when you are away to make sure that everything is okay.
e. Finally, you can insulate exterior pipes with foam or fibers to avoid worrying about icy temperatures from time to time. Also, faucets which are found outside should be covered with an insulated dome to make sure that they don’t freeze during cold seasons.