As seasons change, frozen-pipe prevention should be added to your list of household priorities. A frozen pipe is more than a nuisance — pressure inside the pipe caused by expanding ice can trigger a pipe rupture. Merely a 1/8-inch split in an indoor-water supply line can release more than 250 gallons of water into your home in a single day, potentially inflicting thousands of dollars of damage on the structure and valuable possessions.
In northern climates, residential pipes are often installed within the insulated portion of the home to prevent freezing even in hard freezes. In the South, however, pipes are often more exposed and may freeze at a higher temperature.
Here in San Antonio, a typical year averages about 16 overnight occurrences of subfreezing temperatures. Here are some tips for effective frozen-pipe prevention:
- Insulate water-supply lines that are potentially exposed to temperatures below freezing with slip-on pipe-insulation sleeves. These include pipes routed through the crawl space, up in the attic, out in the garage, and in other unheated portions of the structure.
- If temperatures below freezing are predicted overnight, open the kitchen and bathroom cold-water taps very slightly to allow a slight dribble. This relieves pressure build-up inside pipes if freezing occurs and prevents pipe rupture.
- Set the furnace thermostat to at least 55 degrees and keep it there during the period of subfreezing temperatures.
- Open doors to under-sink cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms to ensure that circulating warm air contacts plumbing.
- If the flow of water from a faucet or other fixture unexpectedly stops and you suspect that freezing may have occurred, don’t wait for the pipe to thaw to find out for sure. Contact a qualified professional plumber immediately.
- If you plan to be away from home during a period when freezing temperatures may strike, consider turning off the water supply to the house at the main shut-off valve to prevent catastrophic flooding in the event of a pipe rupture.
For professional advice and service relating to frozen-pipe prevention, contact Beyer Boys.