Freezing Pipes- It’s Still a Concern

While Christmas is over, the coldest weather may not be. Now is the time to prepare your home.

Homeowners with exposed pipes should take action as soon as possible because a hard freeze is in the forecast Thursday night and again on Friday night. Exposed pipes could freeze and burst leading to extensive damage and costly repairs.

Clyde Mize, former owner of Mize Plumbing and father of current owner, Rocky Mize, had some tips to possibly help prevent damage to exposed pipes.

“If water lines are not insulated, then people either need to leave a faucet dripping, or, the best thing to do, is turn the water off at the shut-off valve outside the house,” Mize said. “This extreme cold can be bad if something isn’t done.”

According to Weather.com, when water freezes, it expands, and when water freezes in a pipe, the pipe could burst and water will escape and serious damage is a result.

Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are all vulnerable to freezing, especially if there are cracks or openings that allow cold, outside air to flow across the pipes. Research at the University of Illinois has shown that wind chill, the cooling effect of air and wind that causes the human body to lose heat, can play a major role in accelerating ice blockage, and thus bursting, in water pipes.

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.

“A dripping faucet generally won’t freeze, but it’s the ones not dripping which will,” Mize added. “So, if you have all of your inside faucets dripping, it can get really expensive on your water bill. The best thing to do is just turn the water off outside.”

Mize suggested opening all inside and outside faucets to relieve pressure, turn the water off at the shut-off valve, and reduce the temperature on your water heater by moving the setting to pilot.

Mize also suggested the same steps be taken for those who utilize a well instead of water from a utility or city.

“With a well you should basically do the same thing,” Mize continued. “But the one thing some people forget is the well pump. If the pump is not insulated, then it either needs to be wrapped in insulation, or, if in a pump house, then put a heat light in the pump house to keep the pump warm.”

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, then don’t take any chances. Call a plumber. If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve, which is usually located at the water meter or possibly where the main line enters the house. And leave the faucets open until repairs are completed.

Another important recommendation is to not try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame. This could easily damage the pipe and may even start a fire.

Mize also said some elderly residents may be affected more than others by the approaching cold front.

“Some elderly people may have a problem doing all of the things necessary, like shutting off the water outside,” Mize said. “So, if they feel they can’t do it, then they need to call a good plumber.”

(Source: The Orange Leader)trackingBy Tommy Mann, Jr., The Orange Leader, Texas