Subzero temperatures will undoubtedly arrive as we prepare to enter the heart of Winter. Your home’s plumbing system may burst due to the cold, leaving you without running water and maybe facing a hefty repair expense.
“We all know that when water freezes, it expands greatly, this pressure can then cause your pipe to burst,” states plumbing expert Sean Richardson of Sean Richardson Services – “A burst pipe can cost anywhere from €500 – €2000 to repair depending on the severity of the damage s so it’s advisable to take every precaution you can!”
So how do you keep your pipes from freezing? Richardson has compiled his top tips for keeping your plumbing ice-free this Winter.
Keep the Water Running
Sometimes even the slightest trickle is sufficient to prevent a severe freeze. If you’re anticipating a freeze, turn on your faucets and allow just a trickle of water to flow through the pipes. The weather forecasts are quite good at projecting when there will be a particularly sharp decrease in temperatures. Just the taps that are supplied by exposed pipes should be turned off, not all the taps in the house. In addition to helping to keep the pipes from freezing, the steady flow of water through them also helps to relieve any buildup of pressure that would cause a pipe to burst.
Pipe Insulation is Key
Cheap, readily available pipe insulation has the potential to save you hundreds of euros. Pipe insulation may be purchased for as little as €2 per meter, meaning that you could theoretically insulate all of your pipes for less than €100. Always pay special attention to the plumbing components that are most at risks, such as outside pipes and pipes found in unheated spaces like the attic. If there’s a rapid freeze coming and you haven’t had adequate time to apply some specialized form of pipe insulation, you can DIY some insulation to keep things ticking over in the meantime. Back in the late 60’s & 70’s homeowners used to wrap their pipes in old, crumpled-up newspapers and then just secure everything together with duct tape.0 Even though it seems silly, it works in a pinch.
Be Generous with the Heating
This may not seem like the most enticing choice given the rising cost of electricity, but even a minor increase in your heating expenses will still be much less expensive than fixing a burst pipe. It’s not good for your internal plumbing when we crank up the heat during the day and turn it down at night when the temps drop. To prevent the pipes from freezing, try to maintain your heating at a more constant temperature during the 24-hour period. Ideally, you should maintain a temperature of at least 12 degrees Celsius.
Get rid of Gaps, Cracks and Breaks
Every home has dozens of problematic cracks and openings; it’s time to close them up. During this time of year, you should inspect the area around your doors and windows for any gaps and holes that could allow cold air to enter your home and all of the warm air to exit. If you have any cabling running internally from the outside into the property, look for gaps where it enters for leaks; windowsills, particularly, are a recurring source of leaks. By plugging these gaps, you may improve your home’s overall insulation, which benefits the plumbing.
Keep your Doors Open
A straightforward yet efficient way to keep warm air moving around your pipes. In many homes, the plumbing in the kitchen or bathroom is hidden behind some kind of cabinet door. You should leave these doors open during a cold spell to let warm air from within the home circulate around the pipes and prevent blockages.
What To Do if Your Pipes are Already Frozen?
The good news is that if your pipes are frozen, all is not lost, but you will need to act quickly – Shut off your water at the mains as soon as possible. The main switch is traditionally located around your water meter or underneath the kitchen sink. By shutting off the water, you’re preventing the situation from worsening, the last thing you want is for the flow of water to continue, which can cause the pressure to build, causing a break.
How can I tell my pipes are frozen?
If you turn on your tap and the water is flowing very slowly or not flowing at all, you’ve probably got a freeze. Important to note, however, if the issue is only occurring on one top, it’s more than likely a local freeze rather than an entire plumbing system issue.
How to Thaw your Pipes
Warm Towel – Wrap a warm towel around the frozen pipe to help it thaw out and prevent further damage from being done to the line. To catch the melted ice, lay down a bucket or additional towels on the ground. A hot water bottle would also work similarly to thaw the pipes.
Hair Dryer – Hair dryers can be used to thaw out a pipe gently – apply heat up and down the length of the pipe to combat the freeze.
What to do if your Pipes do Burst
If the pipes do burst, it’s a race against the clock. We’d always recommend that repairs be left to a professional, but you can take some steps to mitigate the damage.
Shut off the water mains, as the last thing you want is to introduce more water into the system, it’s incredibly important to remove the supply and minimize the damage. Call your local plumber and see how fast they can come to your property. Then, attempt to remove as much of standing water as possible – This is necessary to prevent mold and mildew from beginning to form in the area.