As temperatures continue to drop in North Carolina, it’s essential to prevent pipes from freezing in your home. One-fourth of winter nights in Durham and Raleigh register temperatures below freezing.
Freezing pipes create a lot of pressure that eventually bursts, leading to significant flooding and costs that will take a hefty chunk out of your bank account. According to HomeAdvisor, a single burst pipe can cost $1,000 to $4,000 total, so it is imperative to be proactive in the colder months.
Besides Cold: Why Pipes Freeze
Obviously, pipes freeze when they are exposed to freezing temperatures. While that part sounds like a given, many people suffer frozen pipes even after taking proper precautions. Sometimes, they simply forget about a water line, such as garden hoses. Sometimes, the age of pipes, walls, or insulation plays a role. In other cases, well-meaning people have turned off their heat while taking a vacation, leaving the pipes in the house unwarmed.
Some of your water lines that may freeze include:
- Swimming pool supply lines.
- Sprinkler/hose lines.
- Water lines found in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics, and garages.
- Other pipes found in areas with no insulation.
Recognizing and Thawing a Frozen Pipe
If you think your pipes are frozen, one way to tell is that you’ll see it covered in frost. Or, the pipe will appear bulging and fat. If you can’t see the pipes, they may be frozen if you can’t turn on the faucet or flush the toilet.
If your pipes have not burst and you want to try thawing a pipe yourself, first shut off the water supply to the house. Once the water thaws, it’ll make a mess, so be ready with buckets, towels, and mops. You can then use a heat lamp, space heater, or hair dryer to target specific areas. Do not use torches or other flames.
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Prevention is the best cure, and will save you the trouble of thawing pipes, or worse, replacing your floor or ceiling after an internal flood!
Winter reaches its coldest temperatures in North Carolina in January. Be sure to prepare your pipes now, so they don’t freeze:
- Patch apparent cracks. Secure holes anywhere pipes run through walls or the floor. Use caulk or another type of filament to address areas where outdoor air can make an already uninsulated area even colder.
- Close the vents in your crawlspace during the winter.
- Leaving for multiple days? Don’t try to save money by turning off your heat. Instead, you can lower the temperature — but not lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep your garage doors shut. There is no need to let that extra cold air in, particularly if/when there are water lines present in the garage.
- Start a drip of water from taps throughout the house when freezing temps are certain. This small measure will ensure that a freeze doesn’t occur.
- Disconnect and store garden hoses each winter, including attachment lines to fountains and other water features.
- Install frost-proof spigots.
- Don’t forget your outdoor kitchen if you have one. Turn off the water supply to any exterior sinks.
If you have questions about your home’s heat this winter, contact us for information or an inspection.