Winter is almost over, but that doesn’t mean there still aren't plenty of chances to get hit with a busted water pipe. Imagine a pipe busting conveniently right after a shower? It’s hard to, considering they always seem to happen at the WORST TIME. However, fret not. By understanding why a pipe bursts during the winter seasons, you can prepare your home better or, at the very least, be better equipped to repair one!
Winter means colder temperatures of course, which easily reach low enough to cause water to freeze. As water freezes, it begins to expand causing the pipes to no longer be able to contain the volume. This means that along with the pipes beginning to freeze, they also expand to such an extent that they will eventually burst, thus causing more problems for you as the homeowner. Such problems can be very costly to your home such as damage to it’s structure or potential flooding. These problems can occur from a full blown busted pipe all the way down to a slight crack, so it is extremely beneficial to do your best in preventing pipes from freezing during the colder seasons.
The most vulnerable pipes will be the ones exposed to the cold air the most. This will be pipes that run through unheated areas such as exterior walls or even your garage. An attic or basement are also spaces at risk of not providing enough heat for piping to remain unfrozen. This might not seem like a step, but it helps tremendously in knowing the layout of your plumbing.
Insulation for your pipes has MULTIPLE benefits, and can serve you well in various temperatures. However, in the context of winter, insulation retains heat for the purpose of preventing freezing. Nothing to fear, this procedure is quite easy and inexpensive to complete on your own dime AND time. We’ve linked you to a simple how-to on insulating your water pipes here. There are other materials such as “heat tape” that you may use, but from our research and experience, our go to recommendation will be insulation wrap or pipe sleeves, as mentioned in the link we just provided.
For clarification, this is for piping on the interior of your home! By this, we mean leaving your cabinets that may be housing sink piping open when possible. When you leave the cabinets open, you are allowing heat to enter those areas, and any benefit to prevent freezing pipes is a benefit to protecting your home.
By keeping your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night, you will also help reduce the risk of freezing pipes. Consequentually, this may mean a higher bill, but this is a pros and cons scenario. That higher bill may save you so much more in repair costs. Pro tip: If you are leaving the home during the winter, a suggested temperature to leave your home at is no less than 55ºF. A friend or neighbor can assist in ensuring that your home is remaining warm.
Again, outdoor piping is much more vulnerable to freezing, so it’s extemely helpful to remove garden hoses, allowing them to drain, and to shut off water leading to outdoor faucets. This is not always possible, so it’s best to ensure that you have an indoor valve that you can use.
Even the slightest trickle of water throughout the night will have an effect on preventing freezing pipes. When possible, especially with your outdoor faucets, you should allow for warm water to still run through the pipes. Remember, it doesn’t have to be completely running. Letting the water simply drip is enough to help.
Of course, you may not be able to repair this on your own. In the event that a pipe is full blown busted, a plumber may be your only solution. Be sure to call them and get them over as soon as possible. While waiting for a plumber to repair busted pipes, it’s best to shut the water off.
For a frozen pipe, however, there are solutions available for you to begin the process of thawing them out. Running water will begin to melt the ice that has formed in and around the pipes. Make sure to leave the faucets running as you start to thaw out the piping.
First and foremost, open flame sources are a big NO. Rather, heat sources such as a hair dryer can help in thawing out pipes. Be sure to not be standing in any water, as leaks are possible which can create minor or major floods in the home. Carefully work your way through the frozen areas of the piping to thaw the pipes.
Although frozen, and busted, pipes have the potential to wreak havoc on your home, they are not a complex problem to solve. It is a rather straight forward solution, with many options of prevention at your disposal. However, when the problem does arise, you do not want to be left without coverage regardless. Our final recommendation is to always stay prepared with the proper home coverages so that you can reduce your costs. Our Personal Lines Specialists are happy to assist you with ensuring your assets are protected. You can learn more about Flor Insurance’s Home Coverages here.