Trees are bursting with red, orange and gold leaves and the blustery breezes are shaking them loose to the ground. It’s autumn in Indiana and it is a sight to behold. Prepare now to avoid the mess and damage from frozen pipes this winter!
As much as so many of us love the fall, we know what’s coming next: short days, cold temperatures and snow and ice. Winter can be a beautiful season, too with fluffy flakes and glistening icicles, but, as plumbers, we know that winter can be tough for homeowners. Two words can make everyone shudder:
There are two outcomes from frozen pipes:
No water. When pipes freeze up, nothing can pass through. That can mean toilets, showers and sinks are not usable. Families know what it is like when the daily routine of bathroom usage gets out of whack – everything gets out of whack. Morning, especially the first morning, requires a whole new schedule. Most of the time, everyone is either late or angry – or upset about bad hair. And if it is laundry day, well, you get the picture. It could mean new socks and underwear for everyone!
Water damage. When pipes freeze up, the ice inside expands and splits the pipe, resulting in leaks. The longer a pipe leaks before detection, the more damage can be caused. Sometimes leaks are hidden in walls or under the crawlspace and aren’t noticed immediately if the pipe affected is not frequently used.
Which Pipes Are Most Susceptible to Freezing?
Some pipes are more prone to freezing simply because of their location:
- Exposed pipes in unheated parts of the home, such as attics, crawlspaces or garages
- Pipes located in exterior walls
- Plumbing on the exterior of the home such as hose bibs (outside faucets) and connected garden hoses
Preventative Care for Your Pipes in Winter
Now, we are assuming here that you are not leaving your home vacant for the winter and flying off to some warm climate for a few weeks or months. That requires a special treatment for your home’s plumbing. The following are suggestions for homes that will be occupied and heated during the winter months.
Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses before the first hard freeze. A hose left attached to a spigot can actually increase pressure throughout the plumbing system and burst an interior pipe.
If you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve for each spigot and then let the water drain. It’s a good idea to also insulate the faucet, too. Even though you think they are outside, the issue of frozen pipes here could make a mess indoors, too.
For unheated spaces inside your home like attics, crawlspaces and garages:
Insulated wrap for pipes is available. Wrap all exposed pipes. For areas where temperatures can be extreme, you can purchase heat tape that is controlled with a thermostat. If the temperature dips below a set temperature, the heat tape will be activated to prevent frozen pipes.
If you have insulated your pipes with thermostat controlled heat tape, check it before the winter sets in to make certain it is still operable.
Caring for pipes in exterior walls:
This can be tricky. A lot depends on how well insulated the walls and pipes are. If you detect evidence of leaks such as mold, water damage or moisture build-up, don’t wait. Chances are that there is already a problem to be addressed before you even add in the issue of frozen pipes. You might want to open up the wall to see the condition of the pipes. This is a good opportunity to add insulation to the pipe area.
Another suggestion is to be sure all bathrooms are used – toilet, bathtub, shower and sink. Don’t let plumbing sit unused for extended periods. This is a good suggestion throughout the year, but especially in the winter. It is much more difficult for running water to freeze than it is for standing water in pipes.
If you take the time to prepare and care for your pipes during the winter, you might not need Fite Plumbing to come calling. However, rest assured that we are here and ready to help if you do. It doesn’t matter what day or time of day you discover a problem because we have someone at the other end of the phone 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – whenever you have an emergency.
The team at Fite Plumbing has provided more than 20 years of plumbing service and repair. Whether it’s something that can wait until tomorrow or needs to be taken care of immediately, we can do what it takes to make the water flow in your house!
Water is essential to life and plumbing is essential to the smooth operation of every household. Don’t fret. Don’t worry. You’ve got Fite in your corner!