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How To Protect Pipes From the Frozen Winter Wonderland Outside

Can Your Pipes Handle the Coming (and Current) Freezing Temperatures?

Winter may officially arrive on the same day every December, but the harsh winter weather seems to creep in earlier and earlier with each year. Many parts of the Midwest are already seeing below-freezing temperatures and seeing some snow. This may make for a gorgeous backdrop for holiday festivities, but only one to be appreciated from the safety and comfort of a warm home. 

Unfortunately, even the coziest fortress may still be vulnerable to the frosty elements in one area – the water pipes. If winter’s icy fingers manage to get hold of just one exposed pipe, the ensuing mayhem can be catastrophic. The good news, of course, is that steps can be taken to make sure a frozen pipe doesn’t crash the party.

Why Frozen Pipes Are Dangerous

frozen pipe

A frozen section of pipe not only cuts off the flow of water to faucets and appliances but in most cases it also causes the pipe to burst as the ice inside expands and breaks through the pipe wall. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the water may leak in a slow trickle or in a powerful, steady stream. Of course, neither of those is a desirable outcome. 

Flooding and property damage is bad enough, but a burst pipe, in certain circumstances, may also pose a serious risk of electrocution or injury from a ceiling or wall collapse. The sudden loss in pressure can also cause damage to the home’s plumbing system and even initiate a backflow event, wherein a foreign contaminant may come in contact with the home’s potable water supply.

Ways To Prevent Freezing Pipes

Running indoor faucets at a drip helps ward off freezing by keeping water moving through the pipes. This is particularly useful on faucets located near the home’s perimeter walls, as the pipes that feed them have less protection than those nearer the center of the home. Keeping the home’s thermostat set to 55 degrees (F) or higher – even when no one’s home – also helps keep pipes warm.

These remedies do help, but on their own, they may not be sufficient to prevent freezing in every situation. A more reliable and long-term solution is to insulate the pipes or bolster the insulation in unheated areas where pipes are present. It should be noted, however, that outdoor plumbing rarely benefits from the above measures and should instead be winterized by a professional plumber to avoid damage.

Different Kinds of Pipe Insulation

There are multiple methods and materials used for insulating pipes, and a few are distinctly suited for residential freeze protection. Tubular insulation made from rubber or polyethylene foam is a popular and economical choice. Fiberglass wraps are also inexpensive and boast easy installation. Similarly, foam-and-foil insulation is self-adhesive and can simply be “taped” around the circumference of the pipe.

pipe

Though not insulation in the strictest sense, heat cables and heat tape are an effective – albeit more expensive – option for keeping pipes warm. These are long flexible cords or flat strips that can be coiled around a stretch of pipe and draw power from a wall outlet to produce heat. They can be used on their own or in combination with certain insulation materials (like rubber). The breadth of options can be overwhelming, so it’s always a good idea to get the advice of a pro before selecting insulation.

About Joe’s Drain Cleaning, LLC

Joe’s Drain Cleaning has been Lancaster, Ohio’s friendly full-service plumbing company for years. They are a local, family-owned business with an A+ BBB rating and consistent 5-star customer reviews. They offer 24-hour emergency service, financing, flat-rate no-surprise pricing, and a rewarding membership plan. Give them a call today for reliable burst pipe repair in Lancaster and the surrounding areas.