When the cold weather arrives, your homes will come face-to-face with a whole range of potential problems that were not present during the warm summer months. One of the most significant of these problems is the prospect of freezing pipes.
Experts roundly agree that as soon as the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit - the ‘temperature alert threshold’ - homeowners will need to take adequate measures to protect their water pipes or risk them becoming frozen and bursting.
According to data collected by the American Insurance Association, nearly 40 percent of homeowners in the United States have said that they have experienced some form of loss from water damage, with one of the leading causes of this related to frozen pipes in the winter.
That being said, there are a number of different ways in which you can minimize the chances of your pipes freezing over as the cold climate starts to take hold. Here are some of the most effective.
Keep the water running
Opening the faucet and allowing the taps to drip is a simple, yet highly effective, way of reducing the chances of pipes becoming frozen during the cold winter months. Even if it is no more than a light trickle, running water is much less likely to freeze over than stagnant water, while opening the faucet also has the effect of relieving the pressure within the system, making the risk of a burst pipe far lower.
For those who live with other tenants who disagree with constantly running water due to the implications regarding more expensive utility bills, it is worth arguing that the small rise in costs will outweigh any damage caused by burst pipes as a result of stagnant, frozen water.
Keep interior doors open
Naturally, the warmest parts of the house are those in which there are radiators, electric heaters, and fireplaces. However, closed doors mean that all the heat generated from these sources tends to get trapped, leading to other parts of the house remaining cold.
Keeping both interior doors and cabinets that have pipes inside open will allow the heat to flow around the house and access areas of piping that are more likely to freeze over.
Set your heating to a constant temperature
While you may feel put off by this as a solution due to the extra costs that will inevitably appear on your utility bill at the end of the month, keeping your heating on a constant temperature during the winter is a very efficacious method of preventing the pipes from freezing over.
Furthermore, if you are away from the house for a few days or weeks, the heating does not need to be on full power as it would be when you are at home. Instead, just set it so that, should the outside temperature drop to below freezing, the pipes will remain warm enough to continue functioning.
Apply heating tape
There are two different types of heating tape; one is self-regulating, with the ability to switch it on or off depending on the thermostat reading, while the other requires a person to manually change it. Whichever one you decide to go for, make sure to use it on sections of piping that are particularly exposed and easy to access, as it can be expensive to run.
Add extra insulation
Pipes that are situated in garages, attics, basements and crawl spaces are at a much greater risk of becoming frozen than those within the main areas of the house, and therefore should be covered with extra insulation to prevent damage from occurring.
Foam and rubber tend to be the best materials for insulation, however wrapping old newspaper around the pipes works well for a quick fix should temperatures suddenly drop, catching you off-guard.
Call the professionals
In the unlikely event in which you have followed all the steps and still face an issue, then the best thing to do is call in the help of professionals to quickly sort the damage before it gets any worse. Simply search for “plumbers in my area” online to find the best people for the job, so that you can be confident in the knowledge that you have done everything in your power to protect your home to the fullest extent.
While freezing pipes might be a common problem during the winter, with a bit of effort and intuition, it is easily preventable. Many of the solutions require just a small amount of forward-thinking and can end up saving you thousands of dollars in repair costs, but never be afraid to call the professionals in if you feel the job is too challenging to do yourself.