2014 has been kicked off with quite a cold start for residents living in Michigan, as well as most of the Midwest. This has included subzero temperatures, heavy accumulations of snow, and many reports of home damages due to frozen and burst pipes. When these subzero temperatures occur, it makes pipes an easy target for freezing. When pipes freeze, it can become a hassle if they are not thawed quickly, and the right way. When pipes are frozen, they have a higher chance of bursting, which can then cause water damage to your home or business. The reason why pipes burst is because water has a certain component to it that when it freezes, it also expands. When this frozen water expands, it puts an extensive amount of pressure on the pipes. It does not matter what kind of pipes they are, the expanding water can still cause the pipes to break.
When pipes freeze, it is usually because they have been exposed to extremely cold temperatures, usually below zero. The pipes affected could be anything from outdoor house bibs to water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that are along walls of the exterior of your home or business with little to no insulation are also easy targets to be subjected to freezing.
If you have not already done so, there are a couple ways to prevent against frozen pipes. It is always a good idea to insulate your home before the weather conditions get too cold. But, because it is already so cold out, anytime would be good to insulate your pipes to ensure they don’t burst, and therefore cause substantial water damage to your property.
The first step is to walk through your property and look for any pipes that are present in unheated areas. Basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets, and bathroom cabinets would be a good place to start. Both hot and cold pipes should be insulated. To insulate your pipe, you can use items such as a pipe sleeve, heat tape, or heat cable. Also, if you do not want to spend much money on these items at your local hardware store, you can also use newspaper. This material can provide a small level of insulation to provide protection on exposed pipes. Even 1/4th of newspaper can make a difference and can help against frozen pipes.
One way to figure out of your pipes have frozen is by turning on your faucet. If you have turned your faucet on all the way and only a slight trickle comes out, you more than likely are dealing with frozen pipes. Pipes against exterior walls and where your water service enters your home are the most susceptible for freezing in subzero and frigid temperatures. When you detect a frozen pipe, you should always keep the faucet open. When you begin to treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through this area. When the water is running, it will help the ice melt.
The next step in the process is to begin applying heat to the pipe to thaw it out. It is very important that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the pipe, because if not, it can burst on spot and cause extreme injuries. You can use an electric hair dryer, portable space heater, or even wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water can help. Make sure you do not use a blow torch, propane heater, charcoal stove, or any other device containing an open flame. Once you have figured out which method of heat you plan on using, apply the heat until the pipe begins to completely thaw out.
If you know you have a frozen pipe but do not know where to look, it is in your best interest to call the professionals such as Tri-County Plumbing Pros. If you do not have the proper tools and knowledge needed for this process, than you may end up doing more harm than good. Water damage can also become a serious issue if your pipes burst, and that will cause even more damage to your property.