Plumbing Tip #16
How Cold Is Too Cold to Freeze Plumbing Pipes?
Cold weather can cause a whole host of problems for the unprepared homeowner. One of the most serious if the freezing and then bursting of a water pipe inside the home. The pipe itself, depending on location can be expensive to repair and the collateral water damage can quickly ruin carpets, clothes and furniture.
Plumbing Tip #1 - How Cold is Too Cold?
Everyone knows that water freezes at 32° F but many don’t consider the windchill factor when preparing for a “hard” freeze, especially in southern climates, where pipes are sometimes not insulated underneath a house or in the attic. The homeowner must betake this factor into account whenever temperatures are within ten degrees of freezing. A mild breeze of 5 mph can lower the temperature by six degrees and a 20 mph wind can lower it by 15 degrees.
Plumbing Tip #2 - Solutions
By far, insulating the individual pipes is the most efficient and problem free solution. Sealing off area in the attic or under the house can cause other problems associated with poor ventilation. Also, on particularly cold nights, a faucet can be left slowly dripping and thus avoid some of the dangers of burst pipes.
Plumbing Tip #3 - Thawing Pipes
If you are “lucky” enough to only get a frozen pipe and not a burst one, it is fairly easy to thaw the pipe without causing further damage.
First, open one of the taps that are fed by the blocked line. This will allow thawing water and any steam to escape and not damage the pipe.
Next, wrap a towel around the pipe where the obstruction is located. Likely places are exposed sections of pipe or non-insulated sections where the pipes enter the house.
Place a bucket underneath the towel to catch runoff from the following step.
Pour hot water onto the towel to slowly dissolve the blockage. Patience is virtue at this stage since rapid thawing can cause the pipe to burst.
Continue the procedure until full pressure is restored at the tap.
Insulate the problem section with the appropriate material to prevent a recurrence.
However, if you have frozen burst pipes, we would recommend calling a local plumbing company to evaluate your needs.
Our Final Plumbing Tip- As with most home maintenance issues, a little proactive care will go a long way towards ameliorating any problems. The next time the weatherman says that there is a cold front approaching, be sure that your house is adequately protected and prepared.