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What causes these pipes to burst during the winter?

The basic answer is that the water coming into your house from the outside is much colder than it was during the summer months. The cold water causes your pipes to contract and in weaker parts, can cause the pipe to burst. This happens because the pipe becomes unable to withhold the water pressures inside it.

While dangerously cold temperatures cannot be prevented, there are things that you can do to protect your property and prevent your home’s pipes from freezing and bursting. Use the following information as a guide on how to prevent frozen pipes this winter and what to do if you find that your home’s pipes have frozen.

Insulate Pipes

Insulation is a great way to protect your pipes and prevent them from freezing up during the winter. When you insulate your pipes, they are able to retain heat and not get as cold during freezing weather. From wraps to tubing and foam to rubber, there are different types of pipe insulation available and several materials to choose from. For the most part, you can install pipe insulation yourself.  It’s important to thoroughly insulate your pipes to ensure it works effectively. That said, don’t be afraid to be generous when installing the insulation.

Let Faucets Drip

If water is running through the pipes, then this will help prevent the pipe from freezing. Even a faint trickle is effective in preventing frozen pipes, so allow your faucets to drip when you fear a potential freezing. While you may be wary of such a tactic for fear of wasting water, it can save you the time and money of having to deal with the mess of burst pipes and water damage.

Set Thermostat at Consistent Temperature

No matter the time of day, you should leave your thermostat at the same temperature. It’s understandable to want to adjust your thermostat based on your schedule to save yourself money on heating costs. However, for the sake of keeping your home warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing, it’s best to keep the thermostat at the same temperature throughout the day. Otherwise, you may need to spend money on repairs for burst pipes and any resulting water damage.  If you do leave your home for an extended period of time when there’s cold weather, your thermostat should be set to a temperature of at least 55 degrees.

Open Cabinets

Open up the cabinets beneath sinks to allow air in. This gives warmer air the opportunity to circulate in the spaces near the piping, helping to prevent them from becoming too cold. This is especially important if the sinks are on an exterior wall, as they will become cold more easily.

What to Do If You Have Frozen Pipes?

If you have frozen pipes that have not burst, you can take the following steps to thaw them and prevent them from bursting.

Turn Faucets On

Much like how running water prevents pipes from freezing, it also helps to thaw them and melt the ice. Even if the water is cold, it will still help melt any ice.

Heat Pipes

To thaw the pipe, you need to apply heat to it, but you should never use an open flame of any sort. Open flames can damage the pipes because of the high heat involved and they may even start a fire.  This includes using a blowtorch, a propane heater, and other devices that use an open flame. Instead, try using a portable space heater or hair dryer.

Keep heating the pipes until water pressure has returned to normal. When pipes are frozen, water may only come out of your faucets at a low pressure or trickle.  A strong, normal flow of water should indicate that the pipe has been thawed.

Contact a Water Damage Restoration Professional

If you are unable to find the frozen pipe, cannot access it, or are unsuccessful at thawing it, contact a licensed plumber to help you out.  In the event that a pipe on your property has frozen and burst, it’s crucial that you seek immediate help from a professional.

William Vargas William RaveisNicole Vargas – Insurance Sales Director – William Raveis Insurance

Mobile: 978.995.0316

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