With the arrival of the cold season, the only concern is not only to keep away from colds but also to keep our home in the best condition with a sound heating system and take some preventive measures.
A cause for concern is the water pipes, especially those exposed on the outside. If the water freezes inside, it can break the tube and cause a significant headache.
To avoid costly repairs, the best we can do is practice prevention, and for that reason, below, we will offer you some tips to take care of your plumbing in the cold.
But why do the water pipes freeze and burst?
When the temperature plummets, maybe 20 degrees or less, that will spell a problem for pipes with standing water; the water, when it begins to freeze, expands, although it is not precisely the ice that can cause the fissures and cracks in the tube, the pressure force of the water that accumulates between the blockage and the closed tap.
The key is to keep warm.
In other words, don’t let the cold soak into your home to the water pipes. We can take simple steps before winter sets in, like applying a sealant to cracks in walls, ducts, and foundations. You have to do the same with windows, air ducts, electrical outlets, and other services.
What to do with the water pipes that go through the closets and cabinets? The cabinets under the sink are recommended to open so that the house’s warm air circulates there. Similarly, the exterior doors for entry and exit must permanently be closed; this is the case with the garage door usually unheated.
These four tips guarantee plumbing care in the cold.
Fix leaks before winter arrives
If we suspect that there are leaks in the home, the prudent thing is to fix them before the arrival of winter because later it will be more challenging to make these types of repairs.
How to start the diagnosis? Let’s start by checking all the taps in the laundry room, bathrooms, and kitchens. If a puddle of water is found and the fixtures have not been used, we probably have a leak causing a leak.
If it’s within our power, let’s fix the problem immediately. If the problem is complex or persists, it is time to call a plumber to get the pipes perfectly ready before the cold season.
Use insulation on pipes exposed to the outside.
If we live in a place where the temperatures drop sharply during the winter, the water will quickly freeze inside the pipes. That is why we can wrap part of the exposed pipe with a foam blanket (this can be purchased at most hardware stores). If you do not have self-adhesive edges, we will use regular adhesive tape to secure the material being placed.
Keeps the water moving?
If the cold is extreme, a good practice is to leave the tap with water dripping slightly. What is sought in these cases is that the water current is in motion because, as we have said, the water stagnating can freeze the pipes. Leaving a small constant stream of good water flushing will always be less expensive than repairing the line.
Drain heaters, hoses, and pipes
In places where the water is hard, sediment tends to accumulate, causing oxidation. The problem with this rust is that it can seep into the water we cook and drink. If we have a heater, we should rinse it with an anti-scale solution before the winter season begins; this will help protect against the cold and the effects of rust.
If there are internal shut-off valves that lead to other taps on the outside, they must be closed, especially if we go on vacation. However, this is an excellent time to inspect the sump pump and the well in which it rests. In shallow temperatures, the pump can freeze and stop working, causing unwanted water cans.
If we are using hoses for the garden patio, the water must be drained to prevent them from turning into ice and bursting the hose. If we have water pipes in basements, they are also susceptible to freezing, so we recommend thermal tapes purchased at a hardware store and are easy to install.
What to do if the water in the pipe has frozen?
How to locate a frozen pipe? We must open every tap in the house. If none of the fixtures are working, the frozen pipe is very close to the main tap water supply. To identify the problem’s source, we must run our hand along the line until we find a frozen section to the touch.
If water flows into one of the taps but not others, then the problem is internal and could be a pipe connected to a specific fixture.
How to fix a frozen water pipe?
The first thing is to make sure we interrupt the flow of water in the home, and we do this by closing the main stopcock or the one that goes to the nearest tap in the area where the water has frozen. In these cases, the solution is to apply heat; for example, use a dryer to defrost the water.
If the tube is made of a non-resistant material, be careful because a sudden defrosting can crack it; If, on the other hand, we have a box made of a resistant material, we can apply a heat lamp or place a soldering iron from a distance (although it must be done very carefully and little by little).
An artifact that can help us is the hot water recirculation valve by thermal convection. The good thing about this device is that it does not need electricity to function. It will make the warm water constantly circulate whenever the temperature is below the optimum point. This device is a proper solution in the water pipes; it does not matter if they are hidden because it allows water circulation.
On the other hand, some elastomers can thaw the water inside the pipe and solve our problem. Do we try everything? It is best to call a professional plumber who can get us out of trouble.
The pipes with frozen water are a real headache when the wintertime arrives. Still, in this case, nothing works better than organization and planning, identifying in advance those areas of the house that can give us problems.
Cold season plumbing care is possible by following these essential tips. And in case the pipe is frozen, there is more than one solution to our problem. Remember always to have the telephone number of a plumber who can help you solve the problem.