Fall is here and winter is just around the corner; and for whatever reason Phoenix has had exceptionally cool temperatures since the beginning of fall. With cooler temperatures in mind, one of the most interesting plumbing problems that can happen are frozen pipes.
Wait – Did they say frozen pipes? Things don’t freeze here.
Actually, water in pipes can freeze any time their surrounding temperature is less than or equal to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It happens quite often but with a couple of simple tips you can save yourself from an icy disaster.
1. At the first onset of cold weather in the fall, make sure that all garden hoses are removed from the outdoor spigots (plumbers call these hose bibs BTW), the spigots and hoses drained and properly stored, and any outdoor water consuming devices made ready for the winter.
2. If you have an occasion to use a garden hose during the winter months, remember to disconnect the hose and drain the water from the hose and the spigot to avoid freezing damage.
3. While we are talking about hose bibs, go ahead and turn these on just a little bit during freeze warnings – small enough so little drips of water can come out. Yep we are going to use leaks to prevent leaks. What this will do is when water is freezing and expanding, the pipe won’t break because pressure is being released and water which is cooling will get through the system and not freeze until after it has left the pipe. Just make sure to close off the hose bib in the morning or any time a freeze warning is not in effect – we don’t want to waste water.
4. This same tactic can be used for any other fixture which has water flowing through it, you can allow a small trickle of hot and cold water to flow through the water lines in order to keep them from freezing. Make certain that the plumbing drains serving this fixture are in good working order so that you don’t cause water damage from the drain backing up.
5. You could also get into the habit of doing regular inspections on the inside and the outside of your home to make sure that any plumbing lines that might get exposed are properly and adequately protected from becoming frozen once the weather does turn cold. One simple way to protect exposed piping is to wrap some insulation around it (yes, some good ole duct tape and that left over insulation your friend has will do just fine).
6. If you have water lines in a crawl space, get into the crawl space with the door closed and the lights off and see if you can see daylight coming into the space. If you do, locate those spots and make necessary corrections to avoid cold air getting in during freezing weather and causing frozen pipes and possible water damage.
7. If you follow these steps, you should keep your pipes from freezing. For those who didn’t prepare for winter and its impending pipe freezing doom, if you awake one cold morning to your water not working turn off the main water supply outside and give us a call – we’ll get you back to running in no time.