Freezing temperatures can result in frozen pipes. When water freezes it expands, creating pressure on its container. As a result, unprotected and uninsulated plastic or metal pipes can burst and potentially cause extensive water damage. It’s been reported that a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water per day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the potential for mold growth. There are 4 things that you can do to prevent frozen pipes and things you can do to minimize damage in the event that you already have frozen pipes.
1. Locate water supply lines that are susceptible to freezing, including those in a basement, crawl space, attic, garage, or under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Insulate both hot and cold water pipes in these areas. Water that is not flowing in a hot water supply line can freeze as easily as a cold water supply line. One option is to allow water to trickle through the pipe so it won’t freeze.
2. Install insulation that is designed to surround exposed pipes. Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can also be used to wrap pipes. You should only use products that are approved and designed for this purpose. Closely follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
3. Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. This will help prevent the freezing of water in the hose and hose bib that can result in pressure on the fitting. If you have inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs shut them off and open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
4. If you are leaving the property for an extended period of time during cold weather, you might consider the following:
a. Make sure HVAC system is working properly,
b. Do not set your thermostat lower than 55°F,
c. Open doors to cabinets where the plumbing is located to allow heat to get to the water supply lines and drain, or
d. Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire suppression system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water