By Dez Duran-Lamanilao
One of the main problems homeowners encounter during the winter is frozen pipes. A research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois reveals that the temperature alert threshold of freezing pipes is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Although thresholds may vary in different regions, the bottom line points down to the importance of taking precautionary measures to avoid accidents and serious damages caused by frozen pipes.
How Do Pipes Freeze?
Take the example of a frozen can of soda. When you forget to retrieve it from the freezer, it explodes because the water has already expanded. Similarly, pipe bursts when water expands enough to escape, regardless of the strength of the pipes used.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
The American Red Cross provides the following recommendations to thaw frozen pipes:
- Keep a suspected frozen faucet open and wait for the frozen area to melt, and the water to begin flowing.
- Use an electric heating pad or electric hair dryer to apply heat to the pipe’s section but remember not to stand in water while using electrical appliances nor use open flame devices such as kerosene, blowtorch or propane heater.
- Apply heat continuously and wait until the water pressure has been restored.
Check out the video below on how to prevent frozen pipes:
Preventing Frozen Pipes
It is ideal to place pipes only in heated spaces and keep them from being exposed in areas where they become vulnerable. However, this can only be done during initial construction of a house. Here are few tips for existing homeowners who want to stop or minimize the problem of frozen pipes:
- Use insulation devices for vulnerable pipes.
- Seal with caulking cracks and holes in areas near water pipes to keep cold wind away and protect the pipes.
- Open cabinet doors during the winter to allow circulation of warm air around the pipes.
- Let a faucet drip slightly to provide pressure relief.
- Drain your water system if you are going on a vacation especially if it is a long one. This is the best way to avoid unnecessary bursting.
If no water comes out of a faucet, it is a clear signal of a possible frozen or blocked pipe. Call a plumbing expert immediately and receive professional help and advice for those unprotected pipes.