As we move into the coldest part of the winter, you must make sure your home plumbing system is protected against the bitter cold and frozen pipes. When the water inside the pipes freeze, it naturally expands and builds up pressure, placing your home at risk of severe water and plumbing damage from a burst pipe. Frozen pipes are not a done deal, though! There are plenty of precautions you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing and a few simple ways to thaw the pipes out if they do freeze. We at Priority Plumbing & Drains are experts at preventing and fixing frozen pipes and are here to help by answering a few frequently asked questions about this common freezing phenomenon.
- Should I Insulate My Pipes and Spigots?
Yes. Any exposed piping and outdoor spigots are targets for freezing. Therefore, it is essential to insulate your pipes with foam tubes and heated tape if you have it. For outdoor faucets, you can put an insulating dome or another covering to help reduce the likelihood of frozen water pipes. These materials can be purchased at most hardware stores rather inexpensively, so there is no reason not to insulate your system.
- Do I Need to Drip My Faucets?
Yes. This question is age-old, and the answer still rings as true as ever. Allowing your faucets to have a slow drip on frigid days and nights protects the pipes from having too much pressure buildup. Although this might not be the best way to prevent pipes from freezing, the reduction in pressure reduces the chance of a damaging rupture.
- How High Should I Set My Thermostat in the Winter?
Although heat settings are mostly based on personal comfort, frequently set in between 60°F and 70°F (~16°C and 20°C) for most households, when you are not home for an extended period in the winter, we recommend keeping your thermostat at least 55°F (~13°C). It is crucial to keep the internal temperature of your home warmer than the air outside, turn off the main water supply, and open cabinet and closet doors where exposed pipes are present to encourage warm air circulation.
- What Should I Do if I Have a Frozen Pipe?
Sometimes all your preparation will still not stop the icy winds from freezing a pipe or two. But, with the right materials and timely action, you thaw the pipes in no time! If you have a hair dryer or electric heating pad, you can start heating the frozen pipes, starting nearest to a faucet. MAKE SURE TO OPEN THE FAUCET and keep it open while you heat the pipes so that the melted water can drip out. Additionally, even if the water is very cold, if it is flowing out of the pipe, it is warmer than the ice and can help speed up the thawing process.
Note: You can also use a portable space heater (away from any flammable materials) to warm areas of the home with frozen pipes. But, under no circumstances should you use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame appliance.
If you have tried everything to no avail, or you cannot find or access the frozen pipe, the best thing you can do is call the frozen pipe professionals at Priority Plumbing & Drains to assess your plumbing system and correct the issue efficiently. Call us today with any questions or to request a plumbing service!