When the temperature begins to drop outdoors, plumbing pipes that are exposed to the cold have the tendency to freeze. This is mainly true if they are located in areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, sunrooms, and garages that are not heated. Pipes that run along un-insulated or poorly insulated exterior walls can also be affected by the cold temperatures.
The freezing and thawing of plumbing pipes can cause the metal/copper/pvc to become weak and break. Water damage caused by burst pipes can create mold problems. If the damage isn’t repaired correctly, or isn’t repaired soon, it can cause mold inside the walls that can make a house unsuitable for living. Keep in mind that your home insurance policy covers damages from pipes bursting, but most likely no coverage for mold unless you purchase the additional coverage.
The best way to keep from having to file a frozen pipe claim is to be proactive and prevent pipes from freezing:
- Adequately insulate the outside walls that have pipes running along them, under the floors and above the basement, and above the attic ceiling.
- Disconnect the water hose before the cold weather begins and cover with the proper water spout cover.
- Always wrap the exposed pipes outside your home with insulating sleeves.
- Seal foundation cracks in crawlspaces that could let cold air in.
- Open your cabinet doors underneath your sink during extremely cold weather to allow warmer air to get in.
- Run a trickle of water through cold and hot water faucets attached to pipes that could freeze.
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, the pipe is probably frozen. There are some things you can do to thaw the pipe safely. Here are some guidelines recommended by the American Red Cross:
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt the ice in the plumbing pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen by using either an electric heating pad that is wrapped around the pipe, a hair dryer, a small portable electric space heater, or by wrapping the pipe in towels that have been soaked in hot water.
- Apply heat until you have full water pressure. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is inaccessible, or if you cannot thaw the frozen area, call a local licensed plumber.
- Check all faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may as well.
If you want more information about protecting your plumbing pipes from freezing, you can access the American Red Cross’ Fact Sheet: Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes by clicking here http://www.redcross.org/static/file_cont338_lang0_155.pdf