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How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Winter

With cold weather and the winter season upon us this month, Birmingham area homeowners need to prepare themselves for the possibility of freezing temperatures. When it gets this cold outside, the plumbing in your home becomes vulnerable. Frozen pipes can cause major damage, and you want to avoid them at all costs. Douglas Cooling & Heating reviews how to prevent frozen pipes in the winter so you can avoid serious water leaks and burst pipes this season.

Preventative Tips to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in the Winter

To prevent frozen pipes in the winter, Birmingham homeowners should practice a combination of preventative strategies as well as taking certain steps whenever the outdoor temperature drops. Before the coldest weather arrives, do the following:

Winterize Outdoor Spigots

  • Disconnect all garden hoses from outdoor spigots. Drain the hoses, wrap them up, and store them in a shed or garage for the winter.
  • Find the individual shutoff valve for each outdoor faucet, located a few feet behind the exterior wall in your crawlspace, basement, or utility room. Close the shutoff valve, and open the outdoor spigot which will allow water to drain out of the supply line.
  • Leave the outdoor spigot open over the winter months, which will allow any water that happens to get into the line to drain out so it does not freeze within your pipe.
  • Consider upgrading to frost-free hose bibbs, which are more resistant to freezing temperatures. You can also place insulating covers over regular hose bibbs if you choose.

Insulate Pipes

Insulating pipes, especially those that run in areas of the home that are not heated or are closest to the exterior of the home, can prevent freezing pipes in the winter when exposed to extremely cold air and temperatures. Products you can use to protect the pipes include:

  • Foam pipe insulation sleeves, which resemble a pool noodle
  • Heat tape; look for UL-listed products
  • Add other forms of insulation to the areas where these pipes run, which will help these spaces hold heat and keep pipes warm

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in the Winter

When temperatures are expected to drop to or below about 20 degrees, your pipes are at risk for freezing. Before the outdoor temperature reaches this point, take these steps to prevent frozen pipes in the winter.

  • Open cabinet doors below sinks, which allows the home’s warm air to circulate in the area and keep pipes warmer.
  • Open faucets slightly, allowing a low stream of cold water to keep moving through the pipes – running water will help prevent frozen pipes in the winter.
  • If you have water pipes running in a garage, keep the overhead door and other access doors closed to help hold heat inside that space and keep pipes warmed.
  • Always keep the heat on in your home, even if you will be away. Never lower the thermostat below about 55 degrees over the winter months.
  • If you set back your thermostat during the day while you’re at work or overnight, raise the temperature of your setbacks a few degrees so your home always has ample heat to help prevent frozen pipes in the winter.

What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze

Despite best efforts to prevent frozen pipes in the winter, freezes do sometimes occur. If you suspect a frozen pipe, which may be obvious due to low water flow or lack of water from certain fixtures, you need to take action fast. Warm the pipes by using cloth or towels soaked in hot water, electric blankets and heating pads. You can also warm the pipes with a hair dryer and a portable space heater. Leave the faucet open as you do this to alleviate pressure and allow melted ice to drain from the pipe.

If you need assistance thawing frozen pipes or help to prevent frozen pipes in the winter, call Douglas Cooling & Heating. Our Douglas Cooling & Heating are ready to help you prepare for colder weather and protect your home’s plumbing lines.

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