Until recently, not to many people have been too concerned about freezing temperatures (and pipes), but with the temperatures dropping below freezing the past few days, everybody should be concerned about it. When it comes to bursting pipes, prevention is key. Save yourself an expense that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars and read these tips and precautions below.
WHERE YOU’LL FIND THE PROBLEM
“Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home,” explains Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.
Pipes most at risk for freezing include:
- Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home (garage, attic, crawl space).
- Pipes located in exterior walls.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES FOR OUTSIDE
A frozen outdoor hose can actually cause an interior pipe to burst. When the temperatures drop and the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage.
EXPOSED INTERIOR PLUMBING
Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for the moderately cold winters we have here in Georgia.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and add additional insulation.
While winters in the Atlanta area tend to be rather mild when compared to those up north, the last resort is to reroute a pipe. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved — and how much damage is caused in the process — this preventative measure can cost anywhere from $700 on up. As always, talk to a plumbing professional who can assess the situation and provide recommended solutions.
HAVE A VACATION HOME?
For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
- Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
In extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the water heater, and perhaps replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.
Disclaimer: Please note, this content is for informational purposes only. Always contact a qualified professional who is knowledgable and licensed in their area of expertise.