How to Protect Your Pipes from Bursting During a Freeze

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Winter is coming and we know what that means…freezing pipes! When it gets cold outside, the water in your pipes can freeze, expand, and burst. A burst pipe can cause water damage and, if left unattended, can grow dangerous mold. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to protect your pipes during a freeze.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent burst pipes in cold weather: 

1. Keep water faucets running – even a trickle can keep your pipes from bursting.

2. Leave your cabinet doors open so that warm air can circulate around pipes under sinks or appliances near outside walls.

3. Assess the condition of your pipes

Are your pipes old? If you live in a home that was built before the 1970s, there’s a good chance your pipes will burst during a freeze if you don’t take precautions. Additionally, pipes made from less flexible materials like PVC, copper, or galvanized steel aren’t as flexible when temps drop to freezing and are more likely to burst. Consider replacing them with more flexible materials like PEX, which is better equipped to withstand freezing temps.

4. Drain your pipes if you’re taking a trip during winter

Shut off your main valve, turn all taps on until empty, then drain any remaining water by opening the lowest tap in the house until empty again.

5. Disconnect any hoses from outside faucets — if you leave the hose connected, water will not be able to drain and will freeze, breaking the faucet.

6. Install heat tape on exposed pipes in areas that are prone to freezing: under sinks on exterior walls, crawlspaces, attics, basements, garages, etc.

7. Keep your garage door closed, especially if you have water supply lines that go through it.

Garages tend to be one of the coldest parts of a house with concrete flooring and minimal insulation. Keeping your garage door closed will also preserve the heat in your home, which reduces energy bills in the long run.

8. Seal leaks that allow cold air into your house or property.

Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to seal these areas and keep the cold air out.

9. Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night, and don’t set it   lower than 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

This will keep the pipes inside the home from freezing, as well as keep the ones underneath the home at a slightly warmer temperature. Also be sure to replace the battery in your thermostat if it runs out of battery.

10. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans to draw the warm air down.

Ceiling fans should rotate in a clockwise direction in winter. Turn the fan on low to create a continuous and gentle updraft, which will allow warm air to circulate more evenly throughout the room.

Water systems on the Gulf Coast are at higher risk because the homes aren’t designed with freezing temps in mind. When freezing temperatures hit, it only takes a few hours for pipes to freeze over.

If you do happen to experience a burst pipe or water leak, call the experts at Restoration and Recovery Contractors of America at (850) 601-3029 or contact us.  Our highly-trained and fully certified residential and commercial water damage restoration techs are available 24/7 and we make it a priority to respond within 1-3 hours.

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