When the thermometer drops below freezing and the snowflakes begin to fly, it's time to start keeping your pipes in mind. Frozen pipes are at risk of bursting and flooding your home. Thus, it's important to do all that you can to prevent frozen pipes – and to know what to do if you do find yourself faced with this problem.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Insulation: Walk through your basement (and any other spaces where there are exposed pipes), and make sure that each one you see has a layer of insulation over it. If you find pipes that are lacking insulation, purchase a sleeve of dense foam insulation, and wrap it around them.
Opening Cupboards: In most kitchen designs, and also in some bathrooms, the pipes that lead to the sink are found behind cupboards. It's nearly impossible to tell whether these are insulated or not without tearing apart your walls. So, you have to assume they're not. Opening the cupboards will let more warm air come into contact with these pipes, which will hopefully protect them from freezing if they happen not to be insulated.
Letting the Faucet Run: If you've had issues with certain pipes freezing in the past, then you should turn the faucet connected to that pipe on to a slow drip. Keeping water moving through the pipes will help prevent freezing.
Handling Frozen Pipes
If you discover that a pipe has frozen, don't just ignore it and hope it thaws out on its own. Shut off the water supply to that section of the plumbing so that water cannot build up behind the frozen blockage and cause the pipe to burst. Then, warm the pipe with a hairdryer. Keep warming until a good amount of water flows out of the faucet when it's turned on. Then, wait until the weather warms up to turn that section of plumbing back on. Otherwise, it will probably just re-freeze.
When you discover a frozen pipe, if it seems to be leaking any water or is developing a bulged look, turn off the water supply immediately and call your plumber. These are signs that the pipe is on the verge of bursting, which could cause substantial water damage to your home.
Don't let a burst pipe ruin your winter season. With the prevention and treatment measures above, you can protect your home and your sanity on the coldest of days. Contact a quality plumbing contractor to learn more.