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How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

When the temperatures start to drop, homeowners have their work cut out for them preparing their properties for the winter. Of all the items on your to-do list, working to prevent your pipes from freezing should be at the very top.   

Cold weather can cause your home’s water pipes to freeze. Now that might not sound like an issue at face value but a frozen pipe can quickly burst and lead to serious flooding. This can be especially problematic when there's no one around to turn off the water. To avoid disaster this winter, here are a few ways to prevent your home’s pipes from freezing.

What Happens When a Pipe Freezes? 

Ice starts to form when temperatures reach 32° F (or 0° C) – freezing temperature. Those of us in cold climates such as Northern Colorado are accustomed to days that dip below freezing. Our piping, however, is not always prepared. 

If for whatever reason your pipe starts to freeze, it can burst within 4 - 5 hours

Water expands about 9% when it transforms to its solid-state. But that’s not necessarily where the issue lies when a pipe bursts. The problem actually stems from the pressure forming just on the other side of a frozen segment of pipe. 

Pressure can build up to a staggering 25,000 psi behind a pipe obstruction. This is more than enough pressure to rupture a typical home pipe. The situation can quickly escalate once water starts escaping from the fissure. In a manner of minutes, devastating water damage can take hold.   

Preventing Your Pipes from Freezing 

tips for preventing pipes from freezing graphic

You don’t have to stress about the potential chaos of a burst pipe. There are plenty of preventative measures you can take to protect your home this winter. Get ahead of freezing pipes with these tips: 

Blow Out Your Sprinkler System 

When the weather starts to shift, the first thing on your agenda should be blowing out your sprinkler system. Even if you haven’t watered your lawn in weeks, stagnant water might still remain in the pipes and tubing of your sprinkler system. If it freezes at the main water supply line, you’ll have a messy situation on your hands. 

Before temperatures dip to freezing, perform a sprinkler system blowout. You can do this yourself or consult a professional. Either way, this is typically done by attaching an air compressor to the system in order to force out any remaining water. 

Keep the Heat On

Another way to keep your pipes from freezing is to maintain a warm temperature in your home all season long. Be sure to run the heat as normal even when you’re away from the house. To conserve energy, you can turn it down lower than normal when you aren’t home. Anything above 55 degrees Fahrenheit should be warm enough to keep your pipes safe.

Let Your Faucets Drip

If you’re worried about specific pipes freezing, you can let your faucets drip to keep water flowing freely. Open faucets help to relieve any pressure within the system. As we went over, burst pipes aren’t typically due to the ice itself – it actually has more to do with the pressure within the pipes.

Add Extra Insulation 

Another preventative measure you can take to keep your pipes from freezing is to add insulation. This is typically recommended for pipes in basements or attics where they are more vulnerable to icing over. When remodeling your home or adding on additional space, always make sure the contractor adds extra insulation to any pipes on exterior walls to ensure safety.  

Seal Up Your Home 

Before freezing weather goes into full effect, evaluate where you might need to seal up your home. Search for any gaps, cracks, and openings. Common problem areas include door frames and windows. You can also search along the exterior and interior walls to spot and seal gaps. You should check around cable holes and the area around pipes. This will help trap heat where it needs to be and protect your plumbing.   

Shut Off Your Water Supply When Traveling 

This is a good rule of thumb year-round. Any time you leave your home for an extended period of time, you should use your main water shut-off valve to turn off your water supply. You never know what might happen when you’re away from home. The last thing you want to deal with right after a trip is a burst pipe and a flooded basement. 

What Do I Do If My Pipe Bursts?

Even with the most thorough preparation, you might still find yourself scrambling to deal with a burst pipe. Before anything else, take a deep breath. Panicking won’t serve you at this moment.  

Find your main water shut-off valve and cut the supply. Open faucets to relieve pressure within the pipes. Now you’ll need to quickly remove the water from your home to avoid further damage. Depending on how much water is present, you can do this by either sopping it up with a towel or by using something like a bucket to carry out the water. Be sure to get as much moisture out as possible to reduce your risk of mold. 

When you finish removing the water –or if you need help with this part of the process– call in the professionals. 970 Services is here for you when disaster strikes. We can repair the burst pipe, extract the water, and mitigate any mold issues. Get in touch for more information about our services! 


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