6 Steps for Preventing Frozen Pipes in Your Home

Here in Virginia, we don’t typically feel hard freezing temperatures for extended periods. Leading many of us to think that our pipes are safe from freezing because of this. The truth is that pipes are even more vulnerable to freezing in typically warmer climates because the houses there aren’t properly insulated for long freezes. With things like polar vortexes that can cause extended periods of uncommon freezing temperatures, your pipes can be put at risk for freezing, even here. Frozen pipes are cause for concern because of the pressure that builds up when the blockage occurs. Water supply pipes often freeze because they are pressurized and constantly have water in them, unlike drain pipes which are less likely to freeze because of their size and lack of constant water flow. When freezes occur in supply pipes, the pressure that builds up can cause the pipe to burst and can lead to serious flooding, causing damages. If not noticed quickly, frozen pipes can become a major problem in your home worse than just a lack of water. The best way to keep pipes from freezing is to prevent them from becoming cold enough to reach the freezing point. Here are six simple steps to prevent frozen pipes. Keep the heat on in your home. Make sure if you’re leaving your home for extended periods, like a few days or longer, that you keep your heat on in your home. It might be hard for you to want to heat an empty home, but the damage from a burst pipe that froze while no one was home could be way worse. The heat doesn’t need to be kept as high as if you were home, but keeping it above 50 degrees can keep the pipes warm. Allowing your faucet to drip in a place where you think a pipe might freeze can keep pressure from building up. Letting the faucet drip won’t stop the pipe from freezing, but it will prevent the pipe from bursting. If the faucet has both hot and cold water pipes running to it, open both taps slightly, if it is a single handle faucet you will want to set it to warm so both pipes are opened. Keep interior doors open to expose pipes hidden away in your home to warmer temperatures. Opening utility closets and cabinets can expose these pipes to warmer temperatures they’ve been blocked off from. Keeping the doors open to all rooms in your home during the winter is generally a good idea as well, as it keeps warm air circulating to all areas, like an unused bathroom. Make sure you seal up any gaps and holes where your pipes run through walls and floors. You can usually feel the cold air pouring in through the gaps around the pipe. This cold outdoor air can easily freeze a pipe. Use spray foam insulation or caulk to fill these gaps on both the interior and exterior side of the wall or floor. Make sure you check every place pipes run in your home, including basements.  Apply heating tape to pipes. This tape works like an electric blanket for pipes and can keep them warm during cold spells. This is a good solution for short sections of pipe that are high risk for freezing and are easily accessible and easy to monitor. Some heat tapes are automatic and turn themselves on when needed and the others need to be plugged in and manually turned on and off. Like most heating devices these products can be dangerous if not used properly, so make sure to familiarize yourself to the products directions and safety procedures.  Finally, adding extra insulation to your pipes can prevent them from freezing. Areas that don’t have proper insulation like attics or basements might need something extra to keep pipes warm. Pipes can be fitted with foam, rubber or fiberglass sleeves to decrease their chances of freezing. This solution is easy for exposed pipes, but for unreachable pipes that run through walls, adding insulation can be much more difficult. Adding insulation in walls and ceilings can benefit both your pipes and the temperature in the rest of your home. As always, if you suspect a frozen pipe in your home, don’t hesitate to contact us to come and check it out. We are available 24/7 for emergency services. We will help you get the pipe unfrozen and determine the proper steps to take to prevent the pipes in your home from freezing again. If you’ve had frozen pipes in the past call Miller’s Septic at 804-843-6834 and we’ll help you determine a solution.
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