Keeping your pipes from freezing in the next winter months is crucial, especially if you live in an area that regularly experiences power outages and temperature drops below freezing.
Frozen pipes, resulting from inadequate heating, can lead to several problems, including the interruption of water service and even the destruction of property. Thankfully, there are steps you may take to mitigate this risk.
If you live where the temperature drops suddenly or drops and stays low for an extended period without heating, take the precautions outlined here to preserve your plumbing.
This post will walk you through how to keep pipes from freezing without heat, so read on to learn more.
Without Any Heat, At Which Temperatures Can Pipes Freeze?
When do homeowners need to take precautions against frozen and burst pipes? The climate varies significantly from country to country, making an accurate prediction difficult.
However, the Illinois State University of Illinois’s Building Research Councils found that 20 degrees Fahrenheit is the absolute minimum temperature at which pipes will freeze if no heat is present.
The Illusion of a Trickling Faucet
Even if your house is unheated and freezing outside, running water through the pipes can prevent them from freezing overnight. Water flow is not the primary factor in preventing ice formation.
The subsurface temperature rises due to the water’s inherent heat. Beneath the freezing point, the soil is significantly warmer. The temperature is slightly above freezing but not exactly tropical.
Leaving a faucet on a slow drip may keep warm water circulating in your home’s plumbing system. Without movement, water in your home pipes will lose heat and freeze if the temperature drops below freezing.
According to experts, this is a tried-and-true method for buildings with constant heating but prone to frozen pipes in extreme cold.
If heat is not present, the cold and hot sides must flow at more than a slow trickle. It’s essential to have a reliable heat source close to the point of use to keep water from clogging drains by freezing.
Due to ice buildup, the flow rate must be high enough to avoid paying for a drainage pipe repair.
How to Keep Pipes From Freezing Without Heat
As soon as you notice the temperature outside dropping, you must take precautions to avoid frozen pipes. Even without these precautions, you can tell when pipes are freezing because water pressure drops when you turn on the tap.
Therefore, here are several ways to prepare your drainage systems and avoid this problem:
1. Always Close the Garage Door
Keep your garage door shut as much as possible if any uninsulated water supply pipes are in your garage. That will also aid in keeping the warmth inside your house and lowering heating costs.
2. Let the Water Run From the Faucets for an Extended Period.
If your plumbing has exposed pipes, you may prevent those faucets from freezing by allowing cold water to drip slowly from your taps. Running water, whether in a slow trickle, keeps water moving through the pipes and keeps them from freezing.
3. Preserve a Constant Temperature
Keep your home at a pleasant temperature all night and day. A cold spell increases the likelihood of your pipes freezing.
If you’re leaving for the cold season, you should do the same with your thermostat. Keep the thermostat set at no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Fill All Cracks
Look around your home for spaces that let chilly air in, then fill them with caulk or other sealants. Water and other lines that flow from the house to the exterior require extra attention to detail.
5. Have Your Outdoor Faucets Drained
Turn off the water to outdoor faucets and drain them. During the colder months, it’s best to safeguard them with faucet covers. It’s also a good idea to turn down your water supply to any outdoor faucets and remove the garden hoses.
What You Can Do When You Have Frozen Water Pipes
Rapid defrosting of a frozen water line is essential. However, thawing your frozen pipes using the correct procedure is also crucial.
Here are some things you can do to restore the water running again and prevent a ruptured pipe and subsequent flood from wreaking havoc on your property.
Thawing Exposed Water Pipes
Several methods exist for thawing frozen pipes if they are located conveniently. You must keep the heat on until all the water from your faucet is at full pressure again. To defrost an uncovered pipe, consider these four solutions.
1. Hair Dryer
Using a blow or hair dryer is a quick and easy approach to thawing frozen pipes. Start by directing the dryer’s warmth or heat at the pipe section nearest the sink.
Take the usual precautions while using an electrical product, like keeping your hands dry.
2. Portable Space Heaters and Heat Lamps
You can also use portable space heaters or heat lamps to defrost the pipe. Put the heater where it can reach your frozen pipe. Indirect heat like this can help unfreeze a frozen pipe in no time.
Keep the gadget away from any water source, and always follow the equipment’s safety instructions.
3. Warm Towels
Towels soaked in boiling water are another option for defrosting frozen pipes. This method may loosen the ice blocking the passage.
4. Electrical Heating Tapes
Finally, wrapping the pipe in electric or thermal heating tapes is a common method most people employ. This tape helps to disperse warmth evenly all over your drainage systems.
You can get the heating tapes that turn off automatically or those that you can plug in and disconnect as needed.
Defrosting Enclosed Pipes
There are three ways to defrost a frozen pipe if placed in an inaccessible area.
1. Raise the thermostat inside the house
Raising the home’s temperature may help defrost your frozen pipes. Increasing the temperature may be necessary to break up the ice.
2. Using an Infrared Lamp
If you can identify the wall section housing the frozen pipes, you can heat the pipe by positioning the infrared lamp before the wall. The lamp’s heat may get through the cold wall and defrost the pipe.
3. Make a Hole in the Wall.
If you feel confident enough, you can remove the part of your drywall blocking access to the frozen pipe. Then, you can use any techniques mentioned to thaw out the pipe.
The Dos and Don’ts of Unfreezing Pipes
Never use propane torches or other open flames to warm up a frozen pipe. Using open flames poses a fire hazard in addition to damaging the pipe.
What Do You Do If a Pipe Bursts
1. Disconnect your main Water Supply
The first action you should take if a pipe freezes and bursts are to turn off your main water supply to your home. Because of this, you won’t have to worry about further flooding or damage to your home.
Each property and unit should have a shut-off valve; knowing where they are is essential. Most homes have a main shutoff control valve close to the home’s water meter, with other valves placed strategically near fixtures like sinks and bathrooms.
2. Consult an Expert
If the pipe freezes, you can’t find it, you don’t feel safe thawing it, or it explodes, you need to contact a plumbing technician or another professional. They can fix the issue quickly and easily.
Dangers Associated with Unfreezing Pipes
When trying to melt a blocked pipe, these are the main dangers you must be cautious of.
1. Risk of sparking a fire while using heat to defrost a frozen pipe.
Please observe all warning labels and avoid leaving the chest item unattended.
2. Pipe explode
Frozen pipes could explode if you don’t start thawing the pipe properly. When thawing, you should always begin near the water source.
Methods for Thawing Frozen Pipes
DIYers with limited experience should leave this particular task to the experts. Try a few quick solutions if you have some home repair experience. If you decide to try defrosting the pipes on your own, here are some things to bear in mind:
Don’t Turn the Faucets Off
There must be a way for the steam and water produced by the thawing procedure to escape from your pipes. If you leave your faucets open, flowing water might flow through your pipes and speed up defrosting.
Put Some Heat on the Frozen Part.
To accomplish this, you can use a blow dryer to warm the region surrounding the pipe or wrap the pipe in an electric heating pad. If you don’t have one of those things, heated towels will do the trick.
Heating the frozen pipes is only a stopgap, so please leave your heating pad in sight.
Be Aware of Potential Pitfalls
Freezing pipes can be dangerous. Therefore, never defrost them with an open flame such as propane, kerosine or blowtorch heater, charcoal stoves, or anything similar to an open flame.
That’s an extremely dangerous fire risk. You should only use space heaters if you can guarantee that the room is entirely free of anything combustible. Leaving the room heater unattended is a strict no-no.
Keep the Heat on Until the Water Flow Is Normal Again.
Once you’ve thawed the frozen pipe, you should use the water from other faucets to look for other frozen pipes.
Quick Action Is Required if Your Frozen Pipelines Are Inside an Exterior Wall.
It’s time to bring in the pros; fixing the problem could involve making a hole in your wall leading inside to expose the pipes for access to warmer air.
If a Pipe Keeps Freezing, How Can I Fix It?
To accomplish this, you can use a blow or hair dryer to warm the region around your frozen pipe or wrap the pipe in an electric heating pad. If you don’t have one of those things, heated towels will do the trick.
How Long Does It Take for a Pipe to Thaw?
In winter and the beginning of spring, pipe bursts are common when temperatures drop below freezing for more than six hours.
Water damage in your home could be catastrophic if your pipes burst. Find out ways to protect the plumbing system in your home to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting in your home.