Protect your pipes and pocketbook this winter season

Protect your pipes and pocketbook this winter season




Though winters in Texas have varied from time to time, cold snaps happen, and they can cost you. This winter prevent an expensive mishap by preventing frozen pipes.

Though water is necessary for all aspects of life, it can also be the root of costly repairs in your home. When water freezes in your pipes, the volume expands and puts pressure within the pipe. This expansion can cause the pipe to break open or create small cracks that can be the start of devastating water damage.

According to Consumer Reports, burst pipes are the most common cause of property damage during the winter, costing a household thousands of dollars and more on average. Pipes at risk are in unheated, interior places such as basements, attics and garages, as well as outdoor hose bibs and water sprinkler lines.  

The American Red Cross offers several tips on how to protect and prevent pipes from freezing, as well as thawing out frozen pipes.

Before cold weather hits your area, protect your pipes by following these tips:

  • Drain water from water sprinkler supply lines and swimming pools. Avoid putting antifreeze in those lines, as its environmentally harmful.
  • Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors, closing inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain and keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing a break.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes such as pipe sleeves.

During cold weather, follow these tips for preventing frozen pipes:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines located there.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Let cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through a pipe helps prevent them from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and night.
  • If you will be going away during the cold weather, leave the heat on in your home. Though you may incur a higher heating bill, it will prevent an even more expensive pipe problem.

If your pipes freeze, follow these tips for thawing them out:

  • Keep the faucet open as you work to thaw the pipe out. Running water through a pipe will help melt the ice.
  • Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. Use items such as an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hairdryer, a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes in towels soaked in hot water.
  • Keep applying heat until full water pressure is restored. If you can’t find the frozen area or can’t thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to locate additional frozen pipes.