Winter is here in Michigan and the number one emergency call for Maxwell Building Services this time of year is when frozen pipes burst. When a water supply line breaks, the damage can be severe. Imagine bringing a garden hose into your home and turning it on. It will only take seconds for your home to be flooded with water . The real problem lies when the water starts to freeze because we all know when water freezes it expands! Frozen pipes can be a costly repair, but there are several ways you can avoid them.
Here’s where it gets really unfortunate.. plastic and copper pipes are not elastic. So, naturally, the force exerted on the pipes by the expanding water will cause them to break. Don’t panic! Here are some ways to help prevent these disasters from happening in your home.
1. Insulate ALL the water pipes! This will help block cold air from reaching your pipes and freezing them. Home Depot as well as most hardware stores carry these types of products with easy to follow instructions. The most important thing when doing this task is to make sure there are no gaps in the foam insulation.
Note; this will only slow done the freezing process and will not prevent frozen pipes.
2. If you have ever lived on a crawl space than you know how scary it is down there! These types of homes will have water supply runs going through the crawl space. If that space is not insulated then you are at risk. A quick and easy way to prevent these pipes from freezing and without having to go in your scary crawl space is to allow your cold water fixtures (bath and kitchen) to drip. A slow drip is fine, the whole point to this is to keep the water flowing. Much in the same way a river doesn’t freeze!
#science (link when water freezes)
3. If you have a few bucks in your yearly house budget, heat tape works great. The cost will range anywhere from $4-$6 a lineal foot of pipe being wrapped. There are two different types of heat tape but both run off of electricity. The first type of heat tape will turn on and off on its own when it feels heat is needed. The other type is not as smart and needs user interaction.
4. Keep interior doors open. This will help with warm air from the furnace to circulate correctly. I’ll even go as far as opening the cabinet doors under the sinks in the kitchen and bathroom. Doing this will allow warm air down to circulate around the plumbing supply lines.
Please be cautious of cleaning chemicals if you have children and/or pets.
If you do suffer a frozen pipe, you should call a plumber right away. The first thing the plumber will tell you is to turn the water off at the meter or a shut off valve. Knowing where these water shut offs are located is very important. We recommend every homeowner get to know and care for their water supply.