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Are Your Water Pipes Safe During The Winter?

November 18, 2021 | Pipe Leak

Are Your Water Pipes Safe During The Winter?

With autumn in full swing and winter now visible on the horizon, temperatures will get cooler, and winter weather will be unpredictable. Some years, there are mild winters, but then there are others where a cold snap hits and lowers the outdoor temperature to much cooler levels for several straight days.

When this happens, one of the unexpected casualties of a cold snap can be the water pipes in a building. But why is this a problem, and what can you do about it?

A Possible Pipe Break

Water will freeze into ice if exposed to a low enough temperature for a long enough period. The freezing point of water is about 25℉, but water lines are generally protected from sustained exposure to low temperatures due to their location. Water lines in a municipal area, for example, are laid out underground, so there is a layer of earth that acts as a natural insulator, preventing the water from ever experiencing temperatures that low.

The same is not always true for water pipes in a building. Some water pipes may be exposed to cooler temperatures in winter because they are in crawl spaces with little insulation. Others may be close to the exterior of a home or commercial property where a break or crack in the wall admits the winter chill. In these instances, if the water freezes, two things can happen.

The first and most noticeable is that if water freezes in a pipe, it is no longer flowing, meaning that no faucet, washing machine, dishwasher, or shower has water. This is the problem most people will want to be fixed as soon as possible.

The other more serious issue is that the water may expand beyond the point of tolerance of the water pipes, and they may break. If that happens, when the water melts back to liquid form, the break in the pipe is a leak. Depending on how serious the leak is and where it is located, it may not be noticed for hours or months, creating extensive water damage that needs to be addressed.

What To Do About Frozen Pipes

One of the best preventative measures for freezing pipes is to add insulation. This is best done by professionals. If any cracks or leaks allow drafts, these should be sealed in areas where pipes have frozen. However, the pipes themselves can have a layer of insulation wrapped around them to prevent freezing from happening again.

When freezing does happen, professionals may need to be called to melt the ice in the pipes, or, if you feel you can do this yourself, use warm air, not a direct, open flame, or physical contact with an electrical device. Houses have burned down due to homeowners using blowtorches on frozen pipes or even caused electrical fires by melting ice with an electric blanket, causing the water to short circuit the blanket and ignite.

Contact Dry Patrol To Fix Burst Pipes and Repair the Water Damage

If you need an estimate of water damage in your home or business, contact us. We can look at the scope of the damage, locate the source of the problem and ensure that all water has been removed before repairs commence.

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