While many Alabama homeowners think freezing weather issues don’t affect us in the South, homes in the Birmingham area are at risk for frozen pipes in the winter. Don’t leave your home vulnerable to this easy to avoid issue – learn how to prevent frozen pipes and take action in the fall. If you do experience frozen pipes this winter, our licensed plumbers share what to do to help you avoid disaster.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Top strategies for how to keep your home’s pipes from freezing are:
- Insulate pipes
- Take action when temperatures drop
- Keep your home warm
Insulate Your Pipes
Water pipes often run through areas of our homes that are exposed to colder temperatures – basements, crawl spaces, attics, etc. Pipes in these areas are at a greater risk of freezing, but insulation helps limit exposure to colder temperatures.
How to prevent frozen pipes with insulation is a one- or two-part strategy – insulate the pipes or insulate the pipes and increase insulation in the area. Pipe sleeves, which look sort of like a foam pool noodle, are designed to fit around the pipe’s exterior and help it retain heat. Heat tape which is UL listed is another product that may be applied to pipes to help insulate. These products are available at your local home improvement store and for the most part are easy to install on pipes that are exposed. Your plumber is able to assist you with solutions to insulate pipes in harder to access areas of the home.
Help the area exposed pipes run through retain more warmth when you increase insulation levels. Adding extra insulation to your crawl space, basement, or attic helps the area retain heat in the winter so temperatures do not drop as low.
Steps to Take When Temperatures Drop
When outdoor temperatures are expected to reach freezing, there are steps to take in the home that work with how to prevent frozen pipes.
- If you have water lines that run through the home’s garage, keep your overhead garage door and other access doors closed to help the area keep its heat inside and prevent exposure to cold outdoor temperatures.
- Open lower kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors below your sink. This allows warm air from inside your home to keep the pipes warmer – it’s an especially important strategy if your sinks are on exterior walls. Be sure to remove any harmful chemicals or items before you open the doors if you have small children or pets in the home.
- Allow a small stream of cold water to run through faucets served by pipes exposed to cold temperatures. Even a trickle of water moving through the pipes helps to prevent freezing.
Maintain Warmth in the Home
Lowering temperatures in the home while away or overnight are popular strategies for energy savings, but could put your pipes at risk of freezing. Keep a constant temperature in the home during periods of freezing weather. It’s better to lose the few dollars you’d save on your heating bill than risk major damage to your home and plumbing.
If you are out of town during periods of freezing temperatures, do not turn your heating system off! Keep heat actively moving through the house to help keep pipes from freezing. Keep your thermostat set at 55 degrees or higher whenever away from home.
What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze
Even when you know how to prevent frozen pipes, there is always a chance that a freeze could happen. Look for the location of the freeze – you want to verify that the pipes have not been damaged by freezing water before you take other action. Thawing frozen pipes that have busted causes serious water leaks. If you have a burst pipe, turn the water off at the main shutoff valve and call your plumber.
If a pipe has frozen but is still intact, these are the steps you need to take:
- Turn on the faucet. This allows the melted ice to flow through the pipe and allows moving water to help you thaw them.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe. Use an electric heating pad and wrap it around the pipe, a hair dryer to target heat along the frozen section, or safely place a space heater nearby. Never use a blowtorch or gas heater!
- Once you receive full water pressure through the faucet, stop applying heat to the pipe.
Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to Repair Your Plumbing System
Make sure your pipes don’t freeze this winter with the help of Douglas Cooling & Heating, a Douglas Cooling & Heating Company. We identify problem zones and take preventive measures to help you avoid frozen water lines at home. Should you experience a frozen pipe, act fast to prevent damage! Call us right away to schedule service. For prevention or plumbing service, contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today.