Steps for Preventing and Reacting to Frozen Pipes
The only nice part about colder temperatures is enjoying it all from inside. Freezing temperatures attract some nasty issues that can easily start up as things turn hectic for the holidays. Frozen pipes are one of the most common cold weather problems and your pipes can freeze anywhere in your home at any time.
Behind walls, under floors, in the attic, basement, cabinets, and almost anywhere else in which pipes are located, there is a risk for frozen pipes. While there’s no immediate danger when they freeze, it’s when they develop a crack or fissure that the trouble starts. A frozen pipe can burst due to increased pressure from the ice as it expands from inside the pipe.
Damage from Burst Pipes
As soon as a frozen pipe bursts, it can send water everywhere. Even a small crack in the pipe can result in a major disaster. Whether involving a large or small leak, each of the surrounding building materials and items can become seriously damaged by the water.
Porous materials especially face the highest risk of damage, including drywall, insulation, wood flooring, furniture, upholstery and more. These materials will act like a sponge and quickly absorb water due to their structural makeup. Over time, this damage can lead to staining, rotting, warping, mold growth and even damage that can threaten the structural integrity of the home or building.
While it’s both time-consuming and expensive to recover from burst pipes, the best way to avoid this situation is to prevent them from freezing. Here are the steps for preventing and reacting to frozen pipes.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Keeping your pipes warm is the best way to prevent frozen pipes. Whether it’s keeping your kitchen cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipe or just turning up the heat in your home, these steps can save your home and personal belongings from suffering a major disaster.
- Allow Faucets to Drip Water
While this may result in a slightly higher water bill, it can still save thousands of dollars spent on restoration and cleanup costs. Allowing the small movement of water to flow throughout the pipes will make it difficult for it to freeze.
- Add Pipe Insulation
Many water pipes are located in areas where heat doesn’t circulate. Keeping them insulated with a foam material or electrical tape can prevent cold air from making contact with the pipe. If you’re not able to use these materials, you can also use fabric or newspaper.
- Allow Warm Air to Circulate
One of the most common places in which frozen pipes occur is under the sink. With the cabinets closed, warm air is not able to circulate around the pipes which increases the risk of a frozen pipe. When you keep the cabinets open, warm air can easily flow around the kitchen sink water pipes.
- Maintain a Warm Interior Temperature
Keeping the internal temperature of your home in the 70s can do a lot to prevent your pipes from freezing. Also, keep in mind that temperatures below 40 degrees can put them at risk for freezing. So you might want to consider using a space heater in places like the attic, basement or crawlspace if warm air doesn’t normally flow in these areas.
Reacting to Frozen Pipes: What to Do
If you believe you may have frozen pipes in your home that have not yet burst, be sure to inspect them right away. Frost is the first indication, followed by low water pressure. Check out these steps on how to react to frozen pipes.
- Turn Off the Water
Turn off the water right away if you have frozen or burst pipes. Even if there are cracks in the pipes, water can seep out.
- Thaw the Pipes
A frozen pipe should always be thawed out with heat. But first turn on the faucets to relieve the pressure within the pipe.
Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. Instead, use a hair dryer, electrical tape, heat lamp, hot towels, or a space heater to thaw it out. If you do use a space heater, make sure you keep an eye on it because they are fire hazards.
Professional Water Damage Restoration
If you have a cracked or burst pipe, the first step is to turn off the water. Locate the water shutoff valve (most are in the basement of the home) and turn it off right away. Then call for emergency water damage restoration services to clean up and restore the damage.
For those living in the Denver, CO area, ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration is available 24/7 to respond to homes and buildings damaged by burst pipes. Our technicians will respond right away to your first call with the equipment and cleaning products needed to extract the water, dry out the affected areas, and prevent mold growth.
Our technicians are trained, experienced, bonded and licensed to work efficiently and effectively, drying out and even replacing soiled drywall, carpeting and other flooring. We will also provide mold removal services if growth has already started.
After fully restoring your home to its original condition, our professionals will work with your insurance adjuster during the claims process so you can focus on other matters. Just be sure to follow the steps listed above to prevent the same disaster from re-occurring.
Don’t hesitate to contact ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration at (303) 791-6000 for any water-related emergency in the Denver, CO area.