In Minnesota, our cold temperatures combined with wind chill creates an increased risk for burst or frozen pipes. As we learned in basic science, water expands as it freezes. This expansion can block the line and can put tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including copper, steel or plastic pipes. Even a tiny crack can unleash more than 250 gallons of water in a single day. The result of frozen water pipes are property damage and high repair costs. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawl spaces, garages, or even kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation are also at risk of freezing.
Follow these tips to prevent frozen pipes:
- Use the heat from the room to circulate around uninsulated pipes. Open cabinet doors under sinks and in storage areas.
- Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to drip overnight; however, be careful not to run the water into a drain line that is exposed to the extreme cold because that line might freeze.
- Insulate all pipes in unheated areas or against uninsulated outside walls, in garages or in crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
- When temperatures fall, make sure the heat is turned on and is set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider keeping the thermostat set to the same temperature throughout the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much costlier repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines. Be sure to follow manufacturer directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Protect your outdoor hoses. Remove, drain, and store hoses properly. If you have valves that supply outdoor hose lines, make sure they are closed during low. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain and keep them open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Consider all your pipe insulation options. These include “pipe sleeves” or UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials. These can be easily installed exposed water pipes.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing. Pipes can easily be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
Call NRH to discuss pipes you feel may be at risk. If your pipes are frozen we are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for your emergencies. Call NRH Plumbing at 612-900-7728.