All materials contract as they get colder and colder and become more dense until the point at which they freeze. Water is unique. That is the reason why ice floats on top of the water it is less dense. This expansion is really a Force of Nature — nothing can stop the 11% expansion. When the water is contained, as it is inside of a pipe, this expansion will melt the pipe (or another container — think about that a frozen can of soda or bottle of wine)!
Pipes that freeze most frequently are those which are vulnerable to the cold, such as outside hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as attics and crawl spaces, garages, or closets on exterior walls. Pipes that run against exterior walls which have inadequate or no insulation will also be subject to freezing. Leaking water pipes often results in significant to intense water damage and the cost to fix can often be enormous! The following tips can help both prevent freezing pipes and thaw those that are already frozen:
- Using antifreeze in these lines must be avoided if possible (keeping in mind that antifreeze is environmentally dangerous, and is very harmful to people, pets, wildlife, and landscaping). Hoses used outside should be emptied, emptied, and saved. Interior valves supplying outdoor hose bibs have to be closed. The exterior hose bibs must be open, to allow water to drain. In the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bath cabinets where water distribution lines are located in unheated areas, both hot and cold water pipes should be checked and insulated to help prevent freezing.
Particular products designed to insulate water pipes, like a “pipe sleeve” or UL-listed “heat tape,” “heating cable,” or similar substances can be installed on exposed water pipes. If nobody will be home for an extended time period during cold weather, the heat in the house should be left on, set to a temperature no lower than 50° F. The Master Valve into the home should be closed off. All taps should be left “open.” If the home loses power, the open valves will help prevent pipes from bursting, and the “closed” Master Valve means even if there’s a fracture, the outcome will probably be minor, compared to an open line running rampant! In spite of all the above measures, homeowners should arrange for a neighbor to walk through the home every day — just to keep an eye on unexpected events!
- Freezing pipe conditions should be tracked and a faucet ought to be permitted to drip slightly. Moving water (a trickle) will help prevent pipes from freezing.
- Throughout cold winter, garage doors should be kept closed if there are water supply lines at the garage.
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors must be kept open, to allow warmer air to circulate the pipes. Harmful cleaners and household substances have to be transferred from the reach of children.
What can be done if a pipe is supposed to be frozen?
- The reduced water flow in the faucet is the first indication of freezing. The most likely places for frozen pipes comprise exterior walls or where the water service enters the house through the foundation. Blowtorches, kerosene or propane grills, charcoal stoves, or another open flame device shouldn’t be utilized for this function.
If the heat is put in the “middle” of a frozen section, that segment will melt. Since both sides continue to be frozen, that water can turn into steam and could get the pipe to burst! When starting next to the faucet, some water (or steam) can escape that faucet and also help prevent damage/harm.
- Heating should be applied until the full water pressure is restored. If the suspended area cannot be located, isn’t available, or when the pipe can’t be properly used, a licensed plumber has to be called.
- The rest of the faucets in the home must be checked to find out if there are additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, also.
- After the pipes have thawed, all water lines to taps and the ice maker must be turned off, and the water meter should be tracked for any hidden leaks.
- When a pipe bursts, the water must be closed off at the main valve. Then a plumber has to be called (it helps to maintain an emergency amount nearby for fast access). Then call PuroClean to assess and fix any water damage which might have resulted.
Irrespective of the circumstances — dealing with broken pipes or other water damage, water removal, puff-backs or other fire/smoke damage, odors, mold remediation, or perhaps biohazard remediation — call your regional PuroClean office, The Paramedics of Property Damage. They’ll mitigate the reduction to prevent additional damage and will then provide disaster restoration services to return the property to a pre-loss condition as rapidly as possible. All of PuroClean offices have qualified professional technicians who supply the latest state-of-the-science services to all property damaged from water, fire, smoke, mold, and other crises.