Even here in usually sunny greater Orlando area, we have a few nights each winter that get below freezing. All it takes is a few hours for your plumbing pipes to freeze and possibly burst. Who wants an inconvenient loss of access to water, a mess to clean up and a repair bill? To avoid all this, you can take steps to prevent and deal with a freeze.
Home construction here in the Southeast often doesn’t take into account the possibility of freezing weather. Water pipes are often placed in vulnerable areas, such as unheated parts of the house, outside the insulated living areas, in crawl spaces and outer walls. Pipes often run through attics in homes with a slab foundation. Local homeowners usually don’t check the condition of pipes since freezing isn’t exactly common. But it’s costly when it does occur, so it’s worth a bit of preparation before outside temperatures approach 20 degrees.
That’s the point when ice may form inside and block pipes. Excess water pressure from trapped water can build up until water pipes burst. Why 20 degrees? That’s below water-freezing temperature, but your house, even unheated areas, will generally stay a bit above outside temperature. Testing has shown that water in unheated pipes doesn’t freeze until the outside drops below 20 degrees.
- Seal drafts that allow cold air (especially wind) to reach unprotected pipes.
- Cabinet doors should remain open under bathroom/kitchen sink so warm room air can help keep pipes warm.
- Allow faucets to drip so water drains out slowly and pressure can’t build. Dripping may stop if ice blocks the pipe, but don’t shut off the faucet because pipes still need pressure relief.
- Insulate pipes with fiberglass or foam sleeves of up to 2 inches.
- Use heating tape or cable: Select UL-labeled products with a thermostat that turns heat on as necessary. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
- Drain outside pipes and use insulation sleeves.
- Turn off pipes leading outdoors and drain in fall.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water pipes and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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|Freezing pipes image via Shutterstock|