How to Prevent Freezing Pipes - And What to Do When They Freeze

February 10, 2020

“You’ll never believe what I’m dealing with at home — our pipes froze and burst.”

Ever heard this over break room coffee in the office? Ever said this to your coworkers?

With an average low temperature of just below freezing, most Charlotte residents wouldn’t consider the potential of freezing pipes cause for great concern. But frozen pipes absolutely can impact homeowners in the southern region.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to prevent painful office small talk of frozen pipes in your break room this winter.   

How and why your pipes freeze — even in the South

According to insurance claims, an average of 250,000 families suffer from frozen or burst pipes each winter, including homeowners in southern states.

But why exactly do pipes freeze, even in a region that rarely drops below freezing? There are a few potential culprits: 

  • Low outdoor temperature
  • Pipes installed in vulnerable locations; either too close to ground level or too close to outdoor walls
  • Pipes installed in areas with no insulation
  • Little or no water flow

How to prevent frozen pipes in your home

  • First things first: Find out the condition of the plumbing system in your home. Get educated on whether or not your pipes are installed in a vulnerable place, and what the current health of them is.
  • Have a plumber check your PRV (Pressure Reducing Valve). If a PRV is not working properly, excess pressure can cause a lot of pipe damage.
  • Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow room temperature air to circulate around pipes, especially if you have water lines in an outdoor wall of your home.  
  • Is there a particular faucet in your home that always seems to run colder water than the rest when outdoor temperatures drop? Let that faucet drip water to allow water movement through the pipe — even just a few trickles.
  • If your garden hose isn’t protected with frost-proof hose bibs, install an insulated cover over them. Pro tip: Disconnect garden hoses during the winter months.
  • Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • If you plan on being away for more than a couple of days during cold weather months, prepare your home with a few simple steps and save yourself from returning to frozen chaos.

How to know if your pipes have frozen, and what to do

  • The most common indicator of frozen pipes is turning on a water tap that yields no water. 
  • If you suspect your pipes might be frozen, turn off your water main and contact a plumber
  • Do NOT try to thaw the pipe yourself. This can cause excess pressure in the line if not done properly and cause further damage than what has already occurred. 
  • If a water line freezes and ruptures, water will escape from the pipes. Sometimes this can begin subtly with a leak, but often times water will rush out of pipes or faucets with extreme force (i.e., water spraying everywhere). If this happens, take the same steps: turn off the water main, and call a plumber immediately.

Again, if you don’t already know the condition of the pipes in your home, we recommend having a plumber come out to inspect. This could end up saving you thousands of dollars in damage.

Let Charlotte Mechanical help you prevent a whole lotta homeowner headaches, and cringeworthy water cooler conversations. Give us a call today!

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