How to Winterize Your Plumbing to Prevent Burst Pipes in Winter

Freezing temperatures outside can freeze the water in the pipes inside your house. This means the water turns to ice and expands inside the pipes. Then, when the pipes thaw, they often burst and then you have a real problem on your hands with pipes leaking in walls and ceilings and the damage they cause. frozen pipe that burstIf you have a newer home, your pipes may be insulated against freezing, but it’s a great idea to double check, and if you live in an older home, it’s likely you’ll have to take some extra measures using the tips below.

How much time does it take for pipes to freeze and burst?

How long it will take for pipes to freeze and burst depends on temperature and time. What is the outside temperature? How long is it predicted to stay at that temperature or lower? Prevailing wisdom says that for your home’s pipes to freeze, the outside temperature must be below 20 degrees for at least six consecutive hours. But how long it takes for your pipes to freeze depends on a number of factors:
  • How well insulated is your home?
  • How deep inside your home are your water pipes?
  • Do your pipes have any insulation? If they lack protection, the time it takes for your pipes to freeze and then burst may be shorter.

7 precautions to prevent burst water pipes 

You can’t control the outside temperature, so it’s important to monitor your plumbing system when temperatures change. You can’t prevent leaks caused when the temperature drops, but stay vigilant and fix leaks as they occur. Then, follow these tips to keep your pipes from freezing and bursting.
  • Keep faucets running.

    When it’s extremely cold outside, keep faucets running slowly - for both hot and cold water. As the water moves through the system, it should prevent pipes from freezing. In a multi-story home, keep a faucet running on each floor.
  • Warm the coldest areas of your home.

     It might be tempting to ignore the laundry room, the basement or the attic, but they often have pipes located near an outside wall or window, so make sure these areas are kept warm. 
  • Keep the cabinet under sinks open.

    Kitchen and bathroom sinks are often located near an outside wall, so leave the cabinet doors open to let in the warm air. And when it’s really cold, the kitchen faucet should be left dripping.
  • Disconnect your exterior hose.

    Disconnect and drain your hose or you’ll be buying a new one in the spring. If you have an interior valve that controls the water flow to the outside faucet, turn off the water completely. 
  • Use heat tape.

    It’s called tape, but it’s not a tape at all. It’s a type of electrical cable that is either snaked through or wrapped around a pipe. It applies a controlled amount of heat to prevent freezing. This isn’t usually a DIY job, so call your plumber if you think your house needs this extreme form of protection.
  • Seal any air leaks.

    Seal leaks that let cold air into your home wherever pipes are located. Leaks can occur around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and the pipes themselves. Caulk or insulation will keep out the cold. If it’s really cold, even a tiny opening will let in enough cold air to freeze pipes. 
  • Keep a check on your home’s temperature.

    You might be warm and cozy, but when temps drop, check your water lines in the areas of your home the heat doesn’t really reach. And if extremely cold weather is forecast, keep the thermostat set a little warmer than usual, especially at night.
If despite your best efforts you still have pipes that burst, it’s important to call a restoration specialist right away. Dangerous mold can grow in as little as 24 hours, the water can contain toxins and trying to clean up yourself can damage the health of your and your family.

Pipes Burst? Call Complete for Quick and Thorough Cleanup

Complete has a team of  IICRC Certified technicians who provide:
  • Flood damage cleanup
  • Dehumidification service
  • Water extraction services
  • Complete structural drying,
  • Mold and environmental remediation
  • Advance dehumidification
  • Content Cleaning
  • Drying and reprocessing
  • Document salvage
  • Electronics restoration
  • Structural repairs
  • Mold removal (if necessary)
Our emergency crews are always ready with the equipment to come to your rescue as and when the need arises. For prompt and unbeatable service, call Complete to get things back to normal, fast. 

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