preventing frozen pipes

January 28, 2014

Preventing Frozen pipes

The winter weather is upon us and now is the time to prepare for the cold from freezing the pipes. When water freezes, it expands. That”s why a can of soda explodes if it”s put into a freezer to chill quickly and forgotten. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands the same way. If it expands enough, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage results. If this happens you will need to turn off the water to the house. Take a few minutes to locate the water shut off valve. The valve is sometimes located in the garage or on the side of the house. If all else fails you can turn the water off at the street.

Why Pipes Burst
Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It”s not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream — between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It”s this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break. Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within the building”s insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating, are safe. .

Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It”s not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow.
Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes.
A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe online casino may have frozen and will still need pressure relief. .

Going on a Trip
When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe, freeze and burst.
A solution is to drain the water system. This is the best safeguard. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. This remedy should be considered even when the homeowner is not leaving but is concerned about a serious overnight freeze.
To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running. It”s not necessary to leave the fixtures open, since the system is filled mostly with air at that point and not subject to freezing.
Also make sure the hot water heater is turned off. When returning to the house, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again.
Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters.