Here in North Florida, plumbing issues due to cold weather aren’t as big of an issue but when the temperature drops and cold weather sets in, there’s an unfortunate side effect for your home’s plumbing: the risk of frozen pipes. Frozen pipes can lead to all sorts of problems; if you’re lucky, the extent of your woes will be that you don’t have running water for a few hours-or days- until the pipes thaw. But, realistically, you could be looking at a damaged home, if those frozen pipes burst. A burst pipe means that there is a strong current of water, like from a hydrant, running into parts of your house where it shouldn’t be. A broken pipe can flood your basement, ruining your flooring and drywall, rot your drywall, warp your cupboards and cabinets, and cause mildew and rot; in some cases furniture can suffer flood damage and personal effects will be ruined. In fact, when it comes to insurance claims for home damage in the United States, frozen and burst pipes ranked high up, with only hurricanes having more claims and costing more.
The good news is that there are some fairly easy steps to prevent frozen and burst pipes from happening. The best steps to prevent frozen pipes are the following.
1. Leave water running.
When temperatures drop, as they sometimes do in all parts of the United States, including even Florida homes, you’ll want to make sure that there’s some water running through your pipes. Leaving some faucets on with a small trickle of water will help create movement through your pipes, and prevents frozen pipes. Make sure, of course, that the faucet you leave trickling won’t cause its own flood! Leaving a trickle of warm water running overnight when temperatures hit their coldest points is a good way to prevent frozen pipes.
2. Keep your house warm!
If you’re going to be away from home during a cold snap, make sure that you leave the thermostat in your home at a temperature that will help warm the pipes and keep them from freezing. Also, don’t forget that nighttime is usually the coldest time of the day; when it’s cold enough to freeze your pipes, you’ll want to leave the temperature in your house at the same as it was at night.
Poor insulation is one of the top reasons water pipes freeze. So, if you want to prevent frozen water pipes, you’re going to want to make sure your water pipes are well insulated. Make certain to check the basement, attic, and crawl spaces where there are exposed pipes. You can always use heat tape to wrap pipes you are concerned about. Don’t forget to check for cracks and insulation problems from the outside that might allow cold air to reach your pipes, as well, and seal them. Holes where cables for your TV, telephone, and internet come in are all spots you’re going to want to check and insulate.
4. Don’t forget about the pipes that lead outside!
You’re going to want to make sure to close all of the water faucets outside for the winter if you live in a cold climate; if you live in Florida or another warm climate, you might want to consider doing this when cold weather is coming. Make sure to drain all of the water from the pipes leading outside before turning off the valve.
All of these are easy ways to prevent pipes from freezing. In addition to being simple, they are solutions that will save you a lot of headaches and money when cold weather arrives. If these tips are too late, make sure to call your favorite Jacksonville plumbers!