How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Every homeowner knows that the only thing worse than dealing with cold and snow all winter long is dealing with cold and snow and frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can be a real nightmare. Not only do you lose access to running water, but your pipes can even burst. A burst pipe in the winter is a huge, cold, wet mess that can ruin your floors and other fixtures and pieces of furniture. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to prevent your home from getting frozen pipes this winter. Try these steps, and you can avoid frozen pipes.

1. Install a valve. When a pipe bursts in the wintertime, it is not actually caused by ice. The problem is that when water turns to ice, it expands. The expansion creates air pressure inside the pipe, which is what causes the pipe to crack. If you have had a frozen pipe burst, you may have noticed that the crack is actually a fair distance away from where the ice is located. This is because the air pressure created by the ice travels down the pipe, ultimately causing the crack. You can remedy this situation by installing a valve, which will help to release the air pressure.
2. Insulate your pipes. If your pipes are not well-insulated, they are much more likely to freeze, regardless of the temperature. If you have exposed pipes in your home, you can make great strides toward keeping them from freezing by insulating them. Try covering the pipes with insulation, expandable foam, or heat tape.
3. Let the faucet drip. It’s contrary to water conservation tips, but it can keep your pipes from freezing. If your pipes don’t have a valve, this is an effective way to keep them from freezing. If you will be away from home overnight or you are anticipating extremely cold temperatures, turn the faucet on just a tiny bit, creating a small drip coming from the faucet. This will allow air pressure to escape so that the pressure doesn’t build up in the pipes and allow them to crack. In the interest of water conservation, you can place a bucket in the sink to catch the drips and use it to water your houseplants.
4. Fill any gaps around your pipes. There may be access holes around the pipes that allow cold, drafty air to get to the pipes. Fill those gaps with insulation, and you will minimize the odds of the pipes freezing.
5. Install a frost-proof faucet. A frost-proof faucet is a fairly new technology in plumbing that can help prevent your pipes from freezing. The frost-proof faucet is installed on the exterior wall of the house, and a water flow valve is installed in the interior of the home. With this type of faucet, you don’t need to use a water shutoff valve inside, and you can continue to use the exterior spigot during the winter without the risk of frozen pipes. As an additional precaution, you can cover the exterior faucet with an insulation kit.

Taking these simple steps will help to protect your home and prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. If you need help preparing your plumbing fixtures for winter or if you do develop a frozen or cracked pipe, contact Scott English Plumbing. We are available around the clock to deal with plumbing emergencies like burst pipes, so you can count on us any time. Call Scott English Plumbing today.