22 Nov PROTECT YOUR PIPES: Preventative Care, Frozen Pipes, and Burst Pipes
As a homeowner, you’re probably aware that home maintenance is a priority year-round. But what specifically should you be paying attention to as we inch further and further into Winter? In a previous blog post, we discussed the top 9 home preventative care maintenance items to assess now. However, there is one big-ticket item in particular that we want to focus on, and that’s your home’s Water Line Pipes. As temperatures outside begin to consecutively remain cold or even freezing, knowing preventative care processes, what to do when your pipes are already frozen and emergency steps to take when a pipe has busted, is of the utmost importance.
Pipe Preventative Care
To avoid costly repairs in the future, here are a few simple preventative care measures you can take:
Locate Your Home’s Pipes and Check for Freezing Points
Often pipes will be located in areas that are prone to freezing, like crawl spaces, garages, basements and exterior walls. Help to eliminate sources of cold air near these water lines by adequately air sealing and weather stripping your home.
Use Insulation and/or Heat Tape
If water line pipes are located in areas without adequate heating, you can also use heat tape and insulation including, foam sleeves, fiberglass insulation, or expanding foam, to wrap around those pipes. This will decrease the amount of heat loss as flowing water runs through those pipes.
Direct Warm Air Toward Cold Areas of Your Home
Pipes that freeze are typically located in one of those freezing points as mentioned above. Additionally, you can use a space heater and/or heating cable to help regulate the temperature in those spaces. However, do so with extreme caution and do not leave heaters unattended, in order to prevent house fires.
Leave Cabinet Doors Open
By leaving cabinet doors open where faucets/water pipes are located, warm air from your home’s heating system is more easily circulated through that space and can help to decrease the chances of freezing. This is especially important when pertaining to your kitchen’s water pipes, as they are typically located on a wall that only has one barrier to the outdoors, thus leaving those specific pipes particularly subjected to freezing.
Leave a Trickle of Water Running
Running a slow trickle of warm water through all of your working faucets will help to prevent water from becoming stagnant and freezing permanently in those pipes. Though doing this may increase your water bill slightly, this cost is substantially lower than it would be to fix a busted pipe.
Know How to Shut Off Your Water
Locate your home’s main water shut off valve and hang an ID tag on it. The valve is typically located where the water line enters the home, which could be in the basement, crawlspace, or utility closet. Be sure everyone living in the home knows where this is located in case of emergency.
Additionally, over time many main water shut off valves become buried under dirt and debris. If your main water shut off is buried, it’s more than likely in need of repair or replacement. Once they rust, they no longer function properly. It’s important to keep the valves above ground, covered and protected. If you can’t find your shut off, it’s time to call the plumber. Ensuring this is operational may be the difference between a small leak of water on the floor and a completely flooded home.
Check Your Irrigation System
Make sure you have fully turned off your irrigation system and let it drain completely. You’ll also want to be sure that you have disconnected any garden hose from the outside faucets. If water is not allowed to fully drain from the hose bib spigot, it can become trapped after the valve is closed. This can then freeze and cause even a supposedly frost-proof spigot to burst. An end-of-season ritual that includes putting insulated faucet covers (commonly called bib covers) on all outdoor spigots will also ensure that you disconnect and put away your garden hoses for the season.
Your Pipes are Frozen. Now What Do You Do?
Below are a few quick steps to take in case you already have a frozen pipe:
- Shut off your home’s water immediately. You did check that main shut off valve to ensure it was operational right?
- Do not thaw frozen pipes until your water is shut off.
- After the water is shut off, heat frozen pipes with a hair dryer, space heater, or hot water. Do not leave heaters unattended.
- Once thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for leaks. Freezing can potentially cause small cracks in pipes, joints, and water meters.
A Pipe Has Burst. Help!
In the case a pipe has officially burst, below are a few steps to take before your plumber arrives:
- Shut off the main water valve and drain the water lines completely – do so by running your cold water faucets and flushing toilets multiple times.
- Shut off your water boiler and heating system and release all the water from your hot taps.
- Once all the water has drained from the water lines completely, turn your heat back on and/or use a space heater to direct warm air toward other potentially frozen pipes.
- Start mopping up excess water to prevent mold and mildew.
- Once you’ve contained the emergency, start taking photos of the situation and document any damage to your home and possessions. You’ll want as much evidence as possible to provide to your insurance company.
- Work with a licensed plumber to repair your water meter or any broken pipes. Call GARSC at 512-360-0480 to schedule a repair or replacement.
While there are many preventative measures you as a homeowner can take to avoid frozen and busted water line pipes, it’s always best to consult and hire a licensed plumber. Whether it’s helping to insulate your pipes, check for cracks or leaks in a pipe due to freezing, or replacing a burst pipe all together, let them handle your project/s so that you can rest assured it’s done correctly.
Additional Source Information:
- Lupton and Luce Insurance
- Business Wire
- New Jersey American Water
- Flo by MOEN
By: Kayla Gonzales, Marketing Manager