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Getting your pipes ready for winter

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Cold weather and freezing can really play a number on your plumbing, especially on exposed or exterior pipes. Water freezes up in the pipes and expands, putting pressure on the plumbing installation and eventually cold snaps your piping.

One clear sign of having frozen pipes is when you turn your faucet on and nothing comes out, you hear the sound of rushing water, even with the water turned off or water just trickles out. Never thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or any other open flame method. They represent a huge fire hazard and are the number one cause of home fires related to pipe thawing.

First step is to immediately shut off the water main, but leave the faucet that’s supplied by the frozen pipe open. Follow the pipe all the way from the faucet to where it runs through cold environments, like an exterior wall or an unheated basement or crawl space. You can visually identify frozen plumbing by looking for frost or ice on the pipes. In critical situations, the pipe might have a fissure or a bulge in it.

Here’s a few techniques for thawing out frozen pipes safely:

Heat Lamps:

  • Can be infrared or incandescent. A great way to thaw an exposed pipe, the infrared one can potentially help you thaw frozen pipes inside your walls, without having to tear down half the house. A great way to thaw pipes that are too close to the wall, is to bounce back the heat from your heat lamp onto the pipe by placing a cookie sheet behind the pipe.

Electric Heat Tape:

  • Doesn’t get any easier than this. It’s a simple ribbon of tape with heating elements that you wrap around your problematic pipe and plug it in. You can also leave it on the pipe, and plug it in occasionally to prevent freezing.

Hair Dryer:

  • The trusty old hair dryer remains the one of the best, cheapest and safest way of thawing frozen pipes. Just plug it in and direct the airflow on the frozen part of the pipe.

To prevent frozen pipes, the most recommended method is covering any exterior or exposed piping with fiberglass or tubular sleeve insulation at the very least, but you can also try leaving your faucet to drip just a little when not using. The continuous water drip should prevent it from freezing inside your plumbing installation.

Home Plumbing and Heating Tips

By signing a service agreement, you're adding another layer of protection. Under the agreement, we'll maintain your system, and if anything happens during the year that we should have caught during your service call read more

By signing a service agreement, you're adding another layer of protection. Under the agreement, we'll maintain your system, and if anything happens during the year that we should have caught during your service call read more