It’s getting to be that time of year to learn how to deal with frozen pipes. Some winter home weatherization tips could avoid the whole thing, though. So let’s discuss what causes frozen pipes. Then we can look at ways to winterize your home to avoid them. And lastly, lets find out how to fix them.
What causes plumbing to freeze
When the temperature dips below 32 degrees many of my customers here in the Jackson county area will start calling with questions. Mainly about how to avoid hiring the doggone plumber. Can you blame them? I always tell them relax. It takes a lot of very cold temps, teens and lower, coupled with wind to cause a pipe to freeze. Things likes the following:
- Gaps in your house siding
- Electric, phone, cable and gas service penetrations
- Furnace malfunctions
- Plumbing in a cold garage or inside external walls
Avoiding frozen plumbing
Next we can look at the aforementioned causes and address them. Most need to be done prior to a hard freeze because they involve working outside with sealants and insulations that need a warm temperature to set properly.
- Seal gaps in your home siding with expansion foam or silicone sealant. Replace siding as needed or add a few nails.
- Where each utility service enters the home there should be proper insulation and all gaps between the wood and piping should be filled with sealant.
- I always encourage my friends and neighbors to purchase a service agreement from a reputable heating & cooling contractor such as Heartland Quality Heating & Cooling. When they break there’s a long line and wait to get it fixed.
- Plumbing installed in exterior walls or unheated garages and crawl spaces are a symptom of hiring the cheapest plumbers. Not all of my fellow craftsmen are qualified or trained. But they’ll take your money.
How to fix frozen pipes
Lastly lets look at how to fix frozen pipes. If a water pipe freezes you first have to identify the type of pipe. If you have copper water pipes you may have a burst pipe inside your walls that is being sealed with an ice plug. Fixing the problem may cause an even bigger one. Call a qualified master plumber.
If you have cross linked polyethylene water pipes, PEX, then all you need do is thaw the pipe. You probably don’t have a burst since this pipe is a memory plastic and will tolerate freezing and return to its original shape when thawed.
Pvc or Cpvc plastic pipe thats frozen has definitely burst. Don’t even mess with it. Just give us a call.
If you believe your piping is frozen but not burst then a few tricks can avoid a large plumbing bill.
- Turn up the heat in your home as high as you can tolerate
- Open cabinets and drawers around the frozen plumbing. You may need to remove shower valve trim in your showers.
- Leave the door open that leads to your garage from your home.
- Get space heaters purring. Remember gas fired appliances used in interior living spaces emit lethal carbon monoxide!
- Hair dryers and heat guns may be used if you know exactly where the pipe has frozen. Use caution. Too much heat could ignite dry building materials. No flames!
When in doubt, just call. I’m happy to help my neighbors and friends. You’re not alone! It can all be fixed.