How To Prevent Frozen Pipes And Water Damage

Copper pipes with damage from freezing

One thing nobody wants to deal with during the holidays is the headache, hassle, and cost of frozen pipes and water damage to their property. If you don’t remember to take care of and prepare your pipes, you could end up with a messy situation that you’ll never forget. Did you know that just a 1/8 inch crack can unleash up to 250 gallons of water a day?

The Frozen Pipe Problem

Something that makes water unique is that it will expand when it freezes. That can be a very bad thing for pipes with water inside them. The expanding water/ice can put a great deal of pressure on those pipes. Enough that the pipe will break to release that pressure and cause all sorts of water damage.

Any pipe that is exposed to extreme cold as we have here in southeast Idaho is at risk for this to happen. Precautions should be taken for anything outdoors that uses water — such as your sprinklers, hoses, and water supply pipes. It is also important to do this in unheated interior areas like your basement, garage, attic, etc. In some cases, pipes running along an exterior wall are at risk as well.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Some things should be done before it gets extremely cold. So, if you haven’t done these things yet, don’t delay in doing them now to decrease your risk of water damage.

Before The Cold Weather Hits

  • Water should be drained from your swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines. Be sure to do this according to the instruction of the manufacturer or installer. Do not put antifreeze in these lines. It is hazardous to your health and to animals and the environment.
  • Disconnect any hoses, drain the water out of them, and put them away for storage. Make sure that you close all inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs and then open those outside bids so the water can drain out.
  • Check the rest of your property for pipes in unheated areas. All pipes in places like the basement, garage, attic, etc should be insulated to prevent them from freezing.
  • Some things that can be used to prevent frozen pipes are pipe sleeve, heat tape, and heat cable. You can even use newspapers around your pipes if nothing else. Just a quarter-inch of paper can go a long way in freezing temperatures.

During The Cold Weather

When the dead of winter hits, doing these things should help you avoid having major problems from frozen pipes and water damage.

  • Keep your garage doors closed.
  • Open any kitchen or bathroom cabinets to let some warmer air in where the plumbing pipes are. If there are children in the home, you’ll need to be sure to remove any chemicals stored under the sinks.
  • Open your faucets just enough to let the water drip a little bit. Keeping the water flowing, even if just slightly, will help stop it from freezing.
  • Some people turn the heat off when they aren’t going to be home. If you are going to do this, don’t set your temperature to any lower than 55 degrees.
  • If you are worried about extremely cold temperatures and something freezing overnight, you can go so far as to drain your water system. In order to do this, you need to shut off your main water valve and then turn on the water fixtures on both hot and cold lines. Leave them on until the water stops running. When you are ready, you can restore water to your system by turning the main valve back on and letting each fixture run until the pipes have filled back up.

If Your Pipes Are Frozen

You can assume you likely have a frozen pipe if you turn on a faucet and only a small amount of water comes out. Now what? How can you take care of this without any water damage? Here are some things you can try to get the water flowing again.

  • Keep the faucet open so water can start flowing as soon as the frozen area begins to thaw. This running water will help to melt any other ice still inside the pipes.
  • Assuming that you know where the freeze has occurred, you can apply some heat to that portion of the pipe. Do this with an electric heating pad, hairdryer, or with towels soaked in hot water. Never try using a blowtorch or any other device with an open flame.
  • Keep the heat applied until your water pressure is back to normal. If you are not able to get the pipe to thaw or can’t locate the frozen spot, you should contact a plumber to assist you.

Idaho Falls Water Damage Restoration Company

If a pipe has burst, assess the situation and do not walk through water that has a chance of being electrified. Shut off the main water valve. It’s a good idea to make sure everyone in your house knows how to turn off the main water valve. Then call a professional water damage restoration company to help clean up the water and prevent any further damage. We serve all of southeast Idaho, including Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Swan Valley, and everywhere in between.

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