In a nightmare scenario, a burst pipe can lead to a virtual waterfall cascading down the stairs and icicles forming on the windows. While not every burst pipe will create such a spectacle, even an “ordinary” burst pipe can cost thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars to clean up and fix. The key is preventing your pipes from freezing in the first place, but how?
How Pipes Freeze
Your home has two separate water systems: pressurized portable water and passive drain water. Pressurized portable water is your supply system and passive drain water is your return system. Both of these systems are necessary to ensure you never run out or over. Both systems are susceptible to freezing, however, when a pressure line lets go, it’s going to spew water everywhere and potentially cause serious damage.
Frozen water can create immense pressure, as water expands when it freezes – in a passive pipe that contains standing water, this can cause the pipe to burst. In a pressurized line, an ice plug forms in the supply line, and backed up pressure causes the pipe to rupture at a weak point.
How You Can Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing
There are two ways to prevent your pipes from freezing: either remove all the water and let it drain, or not let the water get cold enough to freeze. The former is impractical, so the latter is your best bet. Preparation is key. The best way to keep your pipes from freezing is to make sure the heat stays on. That means ensuring your heating equipment is well-maintained and supplied with fuel. If you’re unsure if your heating equipment is up to the task, contact us and one of our expert technicians will come take a look.
However, in a bitter cold New England winter, you should prepare as if something will go wrong. With that in mind, follow these tips:
- Always keep your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees
- Never turn off the heat entirely
- Insulate and seal your crawlspaces, attic and basement
- Insulate your water pipes with pipe sleeves
- Keep an eye out for freeze-up points, or cold spots underneath plumbing fixtures
- Drain and disconnect hoses, and close inside valves supplying outside hose bibs
- Let your water drip slowly on cold nights to keep it moving
Contact Fuel Services
Don’t let a spectacle play out – for more advice on preventing your pipes from freezing, or if you think you have a problem, contact us today.