It’s a common misconception that only those who live in cold climates are at risk of having their pipes freeze. The truth is that the pipes of homes in warmer climates are actually more susceptible to freezing due to the fact that they’re less likely to be properly insulated for freezing temperatures.
While frozen pipes are a problem, a burst pipe is much worse. Frozen pipes themselves are an issue because they prevent water from flowing, but a burst pipe can cause structural damage and flooding. If you’re a homeowner, business owner, or landlord that is terrified of receiving the news that your pipes have frozen or burst, follow these quick tips that will prevent just that!
If you plan on leaving your home or building for an extended period of time, be sure to leave the thermostat up and the heater on. While it may be hard to convince a tenant to leave their heater on – especially if they are responsible for the gas bill – let them know that a burst pipe can cause extensive water damage to their belongings.
Quick Tip: The thermostat doesn’t need to be set as high as it normally would be if there were occupants in the home. Setting it around 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a safe temperature to prevent a freeze or burst.
Any holes or cracks in the roof and walls should be caulked to keep a tight seal. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that doing this will keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
Allowing faucets to drip slightly is a good way to prevent a frozen pipe. Leaving the faucet slightly open helps to relieve built-up pressures in the piping system. The pressure inside a frozen pipe is actually what causes bursts.
For exposed and easily accessible pipes, applying electrical heating tape can be an option to prevent a freeze; just apply the tape directly to the pipe. There are two types of electrical heating tape: the first senses when heat is needed and automatically turns on, the other type must be manually plugged in when needed and unplugged when not in use.
Warning: Like space heaters, this product can cause fires, so it is important to read all instructions before applying electrical heating tape.
Pipes are oftentimes located in cabinets, so leaving cabinet doors open when the temperature starts to drop is a good way for the heat in the rest of the house to keep the pipes warm. Open interior doors as well so the heat can flow freely throughout the home or building.
There are some parts of the home, such as basements or attics, that aren’t properly insulated due to the fact that occupants do not spend a lot of time in these areas. As a result, the pipes in these areas are not properly insulated either. Foam, rubber, or fiberglass sleeves are all options to help decrease the chances of a frozen or burst pipe. This is a cheap and easy solution for exposed pipes, but it can get pricey if walls, floors or ceilings have to be opened up in order to get to the piping. Extra insulation can also be added into walls and ceilings to help keep the pipes at a regulated temperature.
Note: Piping in basements and attics may not be the only ones that lack proper insulation from the cold. If you’ve experienced problem with freezing pipes in particular areas of the home in the past, extra insulation may be necessary in these areas as well.