As water freezes, it actually expands. In fact, did you know that when a gallon of water freezes, it expands up to 9% bigger than its original size? This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever container it is in, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter how strong these pipes are, expanding water can cause them to break. If you have ever seen a frozen soda can that swelled up, split or exploded, you have seen the worst outcome of expanding frozen water.
Why Do Pipes Freeze?
Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold or run against exterior walls. While there are several reasons that make these pipes most vulnerable, the three main reasons pipes freeze are:
1. Drastic change in temperature
2. Poorly insulated pipes
3. Thermostat set too low
Can I Prevent Pipes from Freezing?
The good news is that there are several things you can do to prevent pipes from freezing. During times of cold weather, try these recommendations:
• Insulate pipes, especially those located in a crawl space or attic
• Use pipe sleeves, heat tape or heat cable on exposed water pipes
• Caulk or insulate cracked seals around pipes
• Open cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes or pipes close to exterior walls
• Use an indoor shut-off valve to drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets
• Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night
• Keep the garage door closed
What if I Have a Frozen Pipe?
If you suspect you have frozen pipe, for example, there is frost on the pipe or you turn on a faucet and either very little or no water comes out, here are a few things you can do to try to thaw it:
• Try to locate the section of pipe that is frozen and unfreeze it yourself
• Common sources for unfreezing are either a hair dryer or space heater
• Turn off the water at the main shut off valve in the house
• Leave water faucets turned on
• Do not use any electrical appliances in standing water
Know When to Call a Professional
If you are unable to locate the frozen section of the pipe, unable to thaw it yourself or if the frozen area is not accessible, it may be time to call Van Rooy Restoration. Our experts can help unfreeze your pipes or answer any questions you have about protecting your home’s plumbing.