A drop in temperature in Central Kentucky is a signal for all homeowners to prepare their homes for the chilly season ahead. People often think about sealing windows and doors and making sure their heating system works effectively. However, they may not give enough thought to protecting their water pipes. Frozen pipes prevent water from flowing freely throughout your home, but more importantly, this is also a very destructive problem. Ice blockages in water pipes can result in a break in the line that could cause excessive water damage. Taking proactive steps can help avoid this issue.
1. Cover Plumbing Pipes
Insulation is not only for the walls and ceilings of a home. Plumbing insulation covers water lines for protection when the temperature outside drops below freezing. This material also provides the added benefit of keeping hot water warm as it runs through the lines. This can moderately reduce water heater usage. Insulating covers come in a few materials, like fiberglass or foam rubber. They will protect plumbing lines but do not produce heat. If the pipes have extended exposure to below-freezing temperatures, they can still freeze.
Another type of protective cover for pipes often exposed to freezing temperatures is heat tape. This product features a flattened electrical cable that wraps around plumbing lines. The installation of heat tape requires an accessible GFCI outlet to keep your home safe. At Absolute Services, we can inspect crawl spaces, basements, or anywhere a central Kentucky homeowner has potentially vulnerable plumbing. We can determine if heat tape is necessary as a safety measure for your plumbing system. If necessary, we can install an outlet and wrap the tape where it is needed.
2. Avoid Temperature Drops
Many homeowners lower their thermostats dramatically during the work day or when away from home for an extended period of time. It is understandable to want to reduce utility costs when no one is home. The concern with doing this is that as the house temperature declines, the air in enclosed areas like cupboards also gets colder. These areas often have lower temperatures than the living space because there is no circulation of heated air.
The drop in temperature from the lowered thermostat could become severe enough in these areas for the water in the nearby pipes to freeze. If a power outage occurs, the already chilly air can quickly go below freezing. This increases the risk of a frozen pipe. Since this will occur when no one is home to identify or correct the temperature, the potential for a frozen pipe to turn into a broken one increases. The temperatures will not rise as fast in enclosed spaces, so the plumbing may remain exposed to freezing air even after the living area is warm again.
If the temperature drop occurs because of an unreliable furnace, consider contacting Absolute Services to inspect the system. Preventative maintenance, such as an annual inspection and cleaning, can reduce the chances of unexpected problems. Homes that fail to warm adequately despite the furnace remaining maintained may need an upgraded heating system.
3. Open Cabinet Doors
Opening kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity doors enables heated air from the home to circulate around the plumbing. It is not usually necessary to do this all the time, but it is helpful when plumbing is most vulnerable. These vulnerable occasions can include overnight, during the day when the forecast calls for record cold temperatures, and when leaving home for an overnight trip.
4. Run Some Water
Homeowners may struggle with this tip because of utility costs and a desire to not waste water. However, leaving water running makes it less likely to experience frozen pipes. During consistent use of the plumbing, it is unnecessary to run the taps to avoid freezing. It is a step that benefits people who will not use their plumbing for most of the overnight hours or when a home is empty during a chilly winter day.
Water does not need to be poured freely out of every tap. Leaving one tap running in a small home or one faucet on each floor in a larger house is often adequate. Turn the water to a light trickle. If you are worried about wasting water, consider placing a pan or bucket under the tap and using the collected water for another purpose, like watering plants.
5. Weatherproof the Home
Freezing pipes could indicate a home has too many drafts. Weather-stripping and caulking around doors, windows, and pipes can help. Inspecting for holes or gaps in foundation walls will also reduce chilly air entering the house. Not only will these steps reduce the risk of frozen pipes, but they can also help lower heating costs. The home may need more insulation in the walls that are behind sinks, shower stalls, or wherever pipes most commonly freeze.
6. Remember Outdoor Plumbing
A fall maintenance step to keep in mind is the importance of turning off all exterior water sources. Bring in garden hoses, drain the lines for outdoor faucets, and have any sprinkler systems prepared for the winter season. The problem of a frozen outside water line could seem like a minor inconvenience since most people do not use outdoor water lines in the winter. However, this is still a major concern. Any ice block in a water line could prevent water from running to other areas of the home. Since these water lines are part of a home’s plumbing structure, the ice could lead to a line break that causes water damage to the interior of the house.
7. Keep Doors Closed
Plumbing lines often run through garages and are found in abundance in basements. Keeping exterior doors closed in these areas reduces how much frigid air the pipes experience. Use the exterior doors in these rooms as little as possible during the coldest winter days. Consider replacing damaged or old doors that do not fully protect these areas from the elements.
Any plumbing within a crawl space under a home will have more risks than the water lines found in a basement. Make sure the access points for these areas remain closed. Insulate the crawlspace as much as possible to keep the interior temperatures higher.
Central Kentucky residents may not have the same extreme winter temperatures experienced by people living in states further north, but below-freezing weather is not unusual. The milder overall temperatures can mean that homes may not have as much insulation or plumbing protection as they need.
Reliable Assistance for Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes can happen in any size or style of home. While it isn’t always possible to prevent a pipe from freezing, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. If you have questions or concerns, call our experts at Absolute Services. We can address a frozen pipe problem wherever it occurs and quickly have the water flowing again to avoid damage. Our experts can also make recommendations for changes that can help prevent the issue from happening again. We also offer routine maintenance and repairs of your heating and cooling equipment, electrical work, and garage door service. Want to learn more about plumbing? Read more about plumbing resolutions here!
Contact Absolute Services today for more assistance or information about plumbing maintenance and care.