After the extreme heat of the summer months, many people rejoice to feel the cool air of autumn moving in. While the colder weather is refreshing, it also means the arrival of winter is close behind. For many regions, this means below freezing temperatures for several months. The cold can wreak havoc with plumbing systems if you are not properly prepared and can cause your pipes to freeze.
One of the main concerns during winter months is plumbing pipes freezing. This is a common occurrence and can lead to a great deal of damage. When the water running through the pipes turns to ice, it can cause the pipes to burst. This can lead to water leaking throughout the area that the pipes are located. If you aren't home at the time of the incident, the amount of water and damage can increase drastically.
There are several ways you can help prevent your pipes from freezing, such as:
- Insulation – Insulation is important to prevent heat loss from a building but it can also be vital for protecting your plumbing from the cold. Make sure that any areas of the house with exposed pipes are covered with insulation. Common areas include: crawl spaces, attics, and basements.
- Heat – You probably have some form of heat for your house during the cold months, but if you plan on being away from the property, you may want to consider an option to keep the building warm. Decreasing indoor temperatures can play a part in frozen pipes. Any temperature over 55 degrees Fahrenheit should be adequate to keeping the plumbing safe.
- Running faucets – A trickling faucet can be an easy line of defense in most cases. Simply leave the faucet running so that a slow, steady stream of water comes out of the faucet. The pressure from the water prevents the pipes from forming ice.
After you have prepared the interior of the building, you can begin the outdoor precautions. Some of the areas you may want to check include:
- Pools or other water lines – If you own a pool, pond, or other source of outdoor water, you should protect the water lines that run to them. You can do this by shutting off the water running to each source.
- Outdoor faucets – Another water source that should be shut off. Most of the faucets have a shut-off switch located in the interior of the building. Check the basement or crawl spaces for the switch.
- Sprinklers – Homes that have sprinkler systems installed should make sure they are shut down for the cold months. The owner's manual should include instructions for properly protecting the sprinklers from snow and ice.
If you still take all the precautions and your pipes freeze, you will need to contact a professional to assess the situation and fix the broken pipes. Any local plumber like one from Clarke Bill Plumbing & Heating should have the experience to properly repair broken or frozen pipes.