Home & Garden 6 Top Tips for Avoiding Frozen Pipes—and Winter's Worst Home Disaster

00:16  07 november  2017
00:16  07 november  2017 Source:   Bob Vila

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7 Ways to Avoid Winter ' s Worst Home Disaster . Because when it comes to severe winter threats to your home , frozen pipes pose one of the most dangerous and costly problems.

Low winter temperatures can cause freezing in your plumbing and result in burst water pipes . As water freezes , it expands and exerts a lot of pressure. It is important to take these 6 hot tips for avoiding frozen pipes in winter early enough.

a piece of wood: All You Need to Know About Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes© Provided by Bob Vila All You Need to Know About Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes Photo: istockphoto.com

The big freeze has many homeowners scrambling for insulation and space heaters, but some of the most important areas to examine in the home during the winterization process are the plumbing pipes. When it comes to severe winter threats to your home, frozen pipes pose one of the most dangerous and costly problems.

Water expands as it freezes, putting significant pressure on pipes until they cannot hold the ice any longer. If you turn on a faucet and only get a trickle of water output, you stand a chance at identifying frozen pipes early enough to thaw them. If you're out of town for the weekend, however, and miss the warning signs, the result could range from a hairline crack to something that spans the length of the pipe.

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But you can avoid frozen pipes this winter with a little preparation and awareness. While it may not come to mind quickly, one area of our homes that also depends on not freezing is our pipes . The Challenge of Frozen Pipes .

Get helpful tips to prevent your pipes from freezing at HouseLogic. Clever Cures for the Worst of Winter . See the full spotlight. Topic Improve, Organize & Maintain, Home Maintenance Tips , Severe Weather Tips .

The types of metal or plastic pipes most susceptible to freezing (unsurprisingly) include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, but indoor plumbing isn't necessarily any safer. Plumbing in unheated areas—basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, exterior walls, or even kitchen cabinets—aren't well protected from the freezing temperatures, and these pipes can cause the biggest headaches. Frozen pipes that have cracked not only need to be replaced but, if they burst indoors, they can also result in serious water damage in that part of the house within hours of thawing out. Untreated leaks in cabinets, walls, floors, and so on can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to clean up and repair, and even open the door for mold and mildew growth.

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Frozen pipes that burst and cause water damage can put a damper on holiday cheer. Use these few tips to help avoid the headache of burst pipes .

"Homeowners with burst pipes can return home to find water frozen solid three to six inches deep. It' s tragic and it' s avoidable ." However, it makes sense to prevent damage and avoid a home disaster during the holidays.

While the problem is most common in the Northeast and Midwest, frozen pipes can occur in all regions of the country. If you're at risk, check out this checklist to help you stop this hazard from striking your home.

How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

The biggest source of seasonal damage can be avoided altogether if you follow these six steps.

STEP 1: Know Your Plumbing

Be prepared for a potential catastrophe by first identifying where your plumbing pipes are run and locating water shut-off valves. Always make sure you have easy access to the main water shut off in case of emergency. (The location may vary depending on the age of your house, but check inside a garage, basement, or laundry room first, and possibly underground in your yard.) Call a professional to have your heating and plumbing system serviced each year, too, so that you're aware of and can fix small problems before they turn into larger issues down the line.

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Home : Solution Center : Plumbing : 6 Tips to Avoid a Costly Winter Plumbing Leak. Your home plumbing could pay a big price if your house isn’t prepared for winter . Learn how to save cash and keep pipes from freezing .

Bad winter weather has the potential to play havoc with your property as small problems soon spiral into burst pipes , damp and flooding after months or cold, wind and rain. Here’ s our winter checklist to help you avoid disaster during bad or wintry weather.

a close up of a rope: How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Winter© Provided by Bob Vila How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Winter Photo: istockphoto.com

STEP 2: Drain & Open During the Fall

All outdoor water lines to swimming pools and sprinkler systems should be completely drained in the fall so that there is no moisture left inside to expand in freezing temperatures. (Don't know where to start? Read up on how to winterize your sprinkler system.) Also, remove and drain hoses and shut off valves to outdoor hose bibs.

It should go without saying, but never put antifreeze in outdoor water supply lines! Despite the promising sound of its name, this product will not prevent frozen pipes; moreover, it's harmful to children, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.

STEP 3: Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Water pipes located in unheated exterior walls, basements, crawl spaces, or garages should be well insulated with sleeve-style pipe insulation to help maintain temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit and prevent freezing. It will also help your pipes—not to mention your wallet overall—if you ensure that all rooms are properly insulated and gaps in leaky windows and doors are closed to prevent blustery drafts.

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Damage from frozen pipes can cost thousands of dollars to fix, making burst pipes an incredibly expensive household disaster . However, by making sure that your home stays at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit at all times during the winter , you’ll avoid frozen pipes .

But preventative maintenance is easy, and taking the time to care for your plumping now can save a disaster later on. These 6 tips can help make sure your pipes are ready for winter and freezing temperatures.

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STEP 4: Run the Tiniest Bit of Water

If not during the whole winter season, you may consider opening a couple of faucets in the coldest areas of the house (where pipes would most likely freeze) just enough to let out a trickle of water. By keeping the faucets open, the flowing water helps prevent pipes from freezing.

STEP 5: Heat Exposure

The main thing is to make sure your pipes remain sufficiently warm throughout the winter. That means keeping cold air out or bringing warm air to your cold pipes. To that end, be careful not to close off any indoor pipes from heat in that particular area of the house. Plumbing that runs along an exterior wall through an under-sink cabinet in the kitchen or bathroom vanity, for example, will be colder if you keep the cabinet doors shut. Leave them slightly ajar, however, and they'll be warmed with the rest of the room as your HVAC system operates. Plugging in space heaters to run on low in problem areas doesn't hurt, either, during the coldest times of the year.

Whatever you do, never completely stop heat on days or nights that dip below freezing point, even if you're out of town. Shutting down your HVAC completely could put your pipes at risk of freezing—even bursting—and your vacation at risk of a less-than-fun ending.

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Top tips for avoiding burst pipes . UK Holiday Home Owner Winter Advice – Burst And Frozen Pipes . Burst Pipe Prevention Tips . As frozen pipes often burst, winter care is crucial. Try the following care tips

If a pipe freezes and breaks, the spillage is limited only to the water in the pipe . How to Thaw Your Pipes : Winter Plumbing 101. 12 Basic Plumbing Supplies For Home Tool Kits: DIY Guy. DIY Plumbing : What to Know to Avoid Disaster .

STEP 6: Get Smart About Your Resources

A variety of other products also help avoid frozen pipes in the first place. Consider a freeze alarm: For less than $100, you can purchase one from your home improvement center and set it so that it alerts your phone whenever indoor temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can compensate with additional warmth in areas at high risk of frozen pipes. Alternatively, a hot water circulating pump will monitor your pipes' temperature and automatically circulate warm water throughout the hot and cold water lines whenever temperatures drop below a pre-determined benchmark without tasking the homeowner to address a problem spot.

a piece of food: How to Deal with Frozen Pipes© Provided by Bob Vila How to Deal with Frozen Pipes Photo: istockphoto.com

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How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

Fortunately, dealing with freezing pipes quickly can greatly minimize water damage to the home.

STEP 1: Find the Frozen Pipe

First open every faucet in your home to see which, if any, just produces a trickle of water—this is a sign of a frozen pipe—this is a clear sign of a frozen pipe somewhere between the faucet and the water source. Starting at the plumbing nearest the faucet, follow the line away from it and feel every few feet to find the coldest pipes, which will likely hold the icy blockage.

And, remember: If one pipe has frozen, that means others may be susceptible as well. To be sure, check all of the faucets in your home.

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Top Spotlight 5 Surprising (and Useful!) Ways to Save for a Down Payment. For folks leaving their houses for an extended period of time in winter , additional preventative measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes .

Extreme winter temperatures are extremely hard on pipes and leave homes vulnerable to water damage. How can you prevent your pipes from freezing ? Get on top of the issue before a winter arctic blast sets in on your pipes

STEP 2: Limit the Amount of  Water to Run Out

Shut off the water supply to the location of the frozen pipes (or, if easier, the whole house) by turning it clockwise to its “off” position. When the frozen blockage does finally thaw, it may let out any additional liquid backed up behind it and turn up a surprise leak, so grab a bucket, towels, and perhaps a mop to prepare yourself for any icy water that gushes out.

RELATED: 10 Emergencies Every Homeowner Should Know How to Handle

STEP 3: Open Faucets

Drain all of the water remaining in the house by opening every faucet on every sink, shower, and tub and flushing each toilet once.

STEP 4: Heat Things Up

Apply heat to the frozen sections of pipe using an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, or a portable space heater until full water pressure is restored. Warm the edge of the area closest to the nearest outlet in the plumbing—like in the kitchen or bathroom—so that steam or water can easily escape. A space heater (or, if you have zoned heating, an adjustment of the nearest thermostat) could also do the trick to concentrate warmth wherever it's needed. Whatever you do, never use a blowtorch, propane heater, or other open flames.

STEP 5: Slowly Restore Water Elsewhere

As you turn the water back on throughout the house via the main water supply valve, be on the lookout for any leaks—if you spot any, you'll need to cut the water supply once again and call a plumber to make repairs ASAP. Close valves and faucets left open from Step 1.

RELATED: 12 Things Your Plumber Wishes You Knew

If your frozen pipes appear to be completely thawed, however, focus your energy once more on the preventative measures you can take into your own hands to avoid such a dire situation in future.

Related: 3 Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Winterize Your Home (Provided by: GoBankingRates )

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