Winter is quickly coming to Indiana, and when the cold weather arrives, frozen pipes become a major threat to the function and safety of your home’s plumbing systems.
Luckily, you don’t have to sit idly by and wait for disaster to strike. This fall, there are several steps you and your family can and should take to help avoid a frozen pipe or other weather-related plumbing emergency this winter.
In the latest blog from Indiana American Water, we’ll walk you through a complete guide on how to prevent your pipes from freezing and why it’s important. Have more questions about your home’s plumbing or water usage? Contact Indiana American Water today, or visit us online for additional resources.
The Side Effects of Pipe Freezing
Most homeowners are aware of age-old cliches and advice about freezing pipes passed down through generations. But do you know the reasoning behind these instructions? Do you know what really happens when a pipe freezes?
Here are some common dangers that could occur when you don’t protect your exposed pipes and plumbing fixtures:
The most common threat of a frozen pipe is that it could burst. When a pipe explodes due to freezing, it can cause extensive water damage throughout your home. Not only does this present a risk of injury or death to your family, it also results in costly repairs to your home and loss of the irreplaceable possessions inside.
A burst pipe can become a long-lasting problem, as the water damage could spark mold growth and other problems that aren’t detected until many months or years after the incident, resulting in yet another round of repairs and renovations that break your budget.
Lack of Tap Water
When a pipe freezes, it prevents the water inside from flowing. As a result, your family won’t have access to water from that pipe. If any major water supply lines are frozen, your entire home could be without running water or efficient water pressure until decreasing temperatures or a professional plumber is able to thaw the frozen pipes.
Some of your home’s essential HVAC systems, such as your boiler, rely on hot water to keep your home safe and comfortable even in the toughest winter weather. If your water pipes freeze, it could prevent your boiler from doing its job, and allow outdoor cold air to overtake your indoor environment. Frozen pipes can also affect other in-home systems such as your water heater. In case of emergency, it’s good to have a portable space heater on hand to battle the cold temperatures of Indiana’s winters.
4 Steps to Prepare Your Pipes for Winter
1. Insulate Your Pipes
For areas of your home that are not heated, such as the garage, crawl spaces, or attic, it’s important to ensure that any pipes within those areas are properly insulated. For a relatively low cost, many hardware stores offer insulation tape that can be used for insulating pipes in unheated areas. Heat cables are also a relatively cost-effective, DIY solution.
While pipe insulation tape or a heat cable are both great solutions for this coming winter, it is not a long-term fix. Pipe insulation will need to be reapplied every winter to protect your pipes and to help them stay warm, so it can often be more cost-effective and efficient in the long run to hire a professional for the job.
2. Give Your Heating System a Tune-Up
While providing your heating system with maintenance might not initially seem relevant to protecting your plumbing system during the winter, it’s a very important process that should not be overlooked or forgotten if you want to avoid frozen pipes.
If your heating system breaks down during the winter, your pipes will have a significantly higher chance of freezing and cracking as indoor temperatures decrease. By having your heating system maintained by experienced HVAC technicians, you will drastically reduce the chances of a complete system breakdown.
3. Look For Cracks in Pipes
Perform an exterior visual inspection of your home’s pipes to ensure that there are no visible cracks. These cracks can expand over time, especially in the winter, and increase the chances of your pipes bursting if frozen. If you find cracks, or evidence of severe cracking, such as a water leak – even if it is only a trickle, call your local plumbing company to be safe. They will perform a professional inspection, and, if necessary, make repairs as needed.
4. Turn Outdoor Faucets Off
Draining and turning off any outdoor faucets on your exterior walls is an extremely important step in keeping your pipes safe during the winter weather.
To drain water from the outdoor faucet, find the spigot’s shutoff valve and turn off the water supply. Then disconnect any hoses and turn the outdoor faucet on to drain any remaining water. After the water has stopped flowing out of the spigot, turn the faucet off and pack your hose away until next spring. Because the water supply has been turned off and any remaining water has flown out of the spigot, you don’t have to worry about the connecting pipes freezing and bursting.
What To Do if Your Pipes are Already Frozen
Pipes Already Frozen? Don’t Panic!
There are several steps you can take to safeguard your home and prevent broken pipes in the event that freezing temperatures cause the water in your pipes to freeze. These steps include:
- Shut off your water using the main water supply valve in your home.
- Locate the frozen pipe by looking for a pipe with frost coating the outside.
- Turn on faucets connected to the frozen pipe to help relieve pressure.
- Check for leaks or signs that could point to the pipe bursting. If you notice these signs, call a plumber right away.
- Attempt to thaw the pipe using home remedies such as an electric hair dryer or an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe.
When using any DIY method to thaw frozen pipes, never leave the area unattended, and don’t expose the pipe to open flame or use heating methods involving flammable materials. While there are home remedies that can help your situation, the best thing to do is wait for freezing temperatures to heat up, and call your local plumber or utility provider for advice and assistance.
Contact Us for More Information on How to Prepare Pipes for Winter Weather
Here at Indiana American Water, we’re completely dedicated to providing homes with safe, high-quality water that they can take advantage of all year round. Pipes are a crucial part of delivering water to your home, so it’s important to take all the necessary precautions and steps to ensure they stay safe during the colder months. Contact us today to receive more helpful information and tips about how to prevent frozen pipes or visit our website for handy tips to avoid frozen pipes.