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RESIDENTIAL PLUMBING & FLOOD PREVENTION EXPERTS
Colorado winters have a whimsical way of making our plumbing systems resemble the frozen caverns of the Ice Planet Hoth (yea, your plumber just referenced Star Wars, we’re cool like that).
See what I mean?
Anyways, as we all know prevention is better than reaction. So with that in mind we give you the number one way to prevent your pipes from freezing:
Yep, that easy. Fight the freeze with heat!
Is it 100% effective? No, it certainly isn’t. Winter in Colorado can be brutal and when it hits 10 below outside there’s a good chance a pipe in your garage or along an exterior wall will freeze, but this will prevent the other, easy to avoid problems.
Now, you may ask, “Chris, why do I care if a pipe freezes, won’t it just thaw?”
The answer is yes, over time it will thaw. But when the weather is consistently below freezing this can take a VERY long time; days even. It’s best to just prevent the pipe from freezing than worrying about thawing it.
“But can’t plumbing companies come out and thaw my pipe?”
Sure, some can, if they can find it. Because of the amount of and complexity of the waterlines in your home it may be difficult or impossible to locate the freeze, and even worse it may involve making several holes in your drywall and ceiling before successfully located. There’s also a higher than 50% chance that the thawing machine used to warm the freeze will cause the copper line to split, forcing you to repair the line at an additional cost. That’s why McAdams Plumbing doesn’t recommend this practice.
“But I have PEX piping, not copper, what about that?”
Great! Pex handles frozen pipes much better than copper. It can expand and contract to its original form dramatically. This protects your home from freeze breaks. If you can locate the freeze in your PEX pipe you can easily fix it by slowly warming the spot with a hair dryer. PEX is fracture resistant, so there’s lower chance of it splitting, but it’s still possible. If you can’t locate the freeze, however, you’re still in the same boat of having to wait for the freeze to thaw.
I hope that helps give you a plan for protecting your home from frozen and broken pipes. You can find more tips on how to prevent frozen and broken pipes below in the “More Prevention Tactics” section.
Happy Monday and stay warm everyone!
In order to make keeping your heat above 65°F more effective you can also open up all your cabinets, closets, and access panels in the house to allow the warm air to move around freely. The more “cold pockets” you have in your home the more likely it is you will have to deal with a frozen pipe.
Also ensure that any pipes you have running along an exterior wall or exposed to the atmosphere in anyway (outside of home, crawlspace, garage) are heavily insulated. Standard fiberglass insulation and foam pipe insulation are good options for this.
Finally, but most effectively, simply turn off your whole house water and open your faucets before you go to bed. By doing this you remove all water and pressure from your plumbing system while you are sleeping, and when the weather is the coldest, and make it close to impossible for your pipes to freeze. No water, no ice!
*Image courtesy of Starwarsreport.com.