How do burst pipes happen?Burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage, but why does this happen? When water gets close to freezing, it expands, and this increases the pressure inside pipes. When that pressure has nowhere to go, the force can break the pipe itself. Once temperatures get down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside, there is cause for concern. In general, the pipes at greatest risk will be those that run along exterior walls, or through unheated interior areas in your home. It’s always easier to prevent pipes from bursting than to clean up the mess afterward. If you can, take these steps to minimize your risk of bursting pipes this winter.
What homeowners can do ahead of timeTake care of these things, in the fall if possible, before the cold weather hits.
- Seal any external leaks where heat may be escaping your home (smaller leaks can be caulked, although some homes may need contractor help to seal things up properly).
- Add insulation to attics and other places where heat may be escaping.
- Drain water from sprinklers, hoses, etc.
- Close inside valves that supply water outside, but leave the outside valve out so any remaining water can escape.
What to do during a cold snapOnce the really freezing temps hit, you’ll want to take extra steps to protect your pipes.
- Keep garages, and other unheated areas with water supply lines running through them closed to keep in as much warmth as possible.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors. It may look silly, but letting the warmer air circulate around the plumbing will help keep things flowing.
- Run a faucet served by an at-risk supply line at a trickle. It’s not the most efficient when it comes to water use, but during a bad cold snap, it could make all the difference.
- Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night, it won’t pay to save on your heat bill if you have to deal with a burst pipe.