The winter is usually a tough season all around.
Aside from the extreme cold that is uncomfortable, the extreme cold can cause your plumbing system to burst, costing you a lot of money to repair.
Hence, as winter approaches, you should take an extra step and learn how to prevent your pipes from freezing.
In this piece, we will answer the question, “Will shutting off water keep pipes from freezing” and learn the various steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and how to fix them if they are frozen. Therefore, read to the end.
What Should I Do if My Pipes Freeze?
Usually, when the temperatures fall to 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below, water starts to freeze, which causes an expansion. Usually, your pipes begin to crack because of the excess pressure ice puts on your lines.
The only way to fix broken and cracked pipes is by getting new ones to replace them, which can be costly. However, if your lines start cracking indoors, they burst within hours, opening your house to the possibility of mold, walls, and floor damage, which can cost you thousands of dollars to repair.
All pipes in your drainage systems, including those indoors, are prone to freezing. However, here are the most prone ones; Swimming pool pipes, outdoor fixtures, and sprinkler lines. The prone indoor pipes include the attic, garage, kitchen cabinet, exterior walls, basement, and crawl areas.
How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing
Immediately you realize that the temperatures in your area have started dropping, you should start taking measures to prevent water from freezing in the pipes.
However, even if you didn’t-didn’t take the steps needed to prevent your pipes from freezing, you can still notice when your pipes start freezing and take the necessary measures. Reducing the water supply from the faucet is the first sign your pipes will give.
Here is what you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing.
1. Keep the Garage Door Closed
If your garage pipes are not insulated from freezing, you should ensure that your garage door remains closed at all times or when possible.
Doing this will prevent the cold temperatures from getting into the room; this keeps the room temperatures constant, keeping your electricity bills from hiking.
2. Leave the Faucets Running for a While
You should leave your faucets served by uninsulated pipes open so that you can have water flowing through the lines at all times. The constant water flow (even drops of water) can prevent your pipes from freezing.
3. Keep a Steady Thermostat
Your house temperatures should always be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Usually, your primary focus should be keeping the house in a comfortable, warm temperature to prevent your pipes from freezing because anytime your pipes are exposed to cold temperatures, they will begin to freeze.
4. Seal the Cracks
You should always check and fix cracked pipes to avoid water freezing inside. However, lines that run from outside to inside your home are the most prone to break due to freezing.
5. Drain Outdoor Faucets
You should also close and drain all your outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing. You can also get faucet covers to lay extra protection to your faucets all through winter.
You should also close and disconnect all your pipes that drain to outdoor faucets all through the winter to keep them from freezing.
This Is How You Can Prevent Frozen Pipes While You’re Away
If you plan to leave your home during the winter, you should take preventative steps to prevent your pipes from cracking and breaking.
Here are a few preventative steps you can take;
- Ensure your thermostat is well adjusted: Before you leave, ensure your thermostat is 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as the warm temperatures will prevent your indoor pipes from freezing. You should also ensure you renew your thermostat batteries if they go off during your trip.
- Talk to your neighbors: Once in a while, you should request your neighbors to check out if your house gets cold.
- Turn off your primary water system: As you leave, you can completely turn off your entire water system. However, you should note that this step will also affect your fire protection and sprinkler. So take necessary precautions as you turn off the water system.
What Else Can You Do to Prevent Frozen Pipes?
1. Relocate Exposed Pipes
You should talk to a professional plumber to move your pipes to a less exposed area to prevent freezing.
2. Insulate Your Pipes
Insulating your pipes help maintain constant temperatures inside your lines, even during winter. In addition to protecting your pipes, this measure reduces the chances of your electricity bills skyrocketing.
Is It Possible to Thaw Frozen Pipes?
Yes, it is, and this is how you do it;
- Check the entire water system to see any cracks if your pipes are frozen.
- If there is a leak, you should immediately switch off the water system and call your plumber to repair the pipes and prevent them from further damage, like bursting.
However, if your pipes are frozen but not broken, you can thaw the frozen water yourself. First, you should open the faucet of the frozen pipe for water to start coming out. Any water, even drops, can go a long way in thawing the entire pipe.
What Steps Can You Take To Thaw Frozen and Exposed Pipes?
- Cover a small part of the pad with an electric heating pad.
- Focus your hairdryer on the various parts of the frozen pipes until the ice starts to melt away.
- Use damp and heated towels to wrap your pipes to thaw your ice. Reheat your towels each time they cool down. Although this process is slower than the rest, it’s much safer, especially if you don’tdon’t know whether your pipes are brown.
- Use your room heater to thaw the pipes; Place it under your lines, and move it along the pipes to soften the frozen water.
Although it may seem easy, refrain from using direct fire to thaw your pipes. The excess heat can melt plastic pipes and cause a burst, especially if your pipes are cracked.
However, if a burst happens while you thaw your pipes, you should immediately switch off the water system to avoid further damage.
How to Thaw Enclosed Water Pipes
- Increase the heat on your thermostat to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The high heat will thaw the frozen pipes and, in some cases, even the hidden pipes.
- Remove a small section of your wall and use some of the methods above to thaw the pipes.
However, if these methods fail or you cannot find the frozen pipes, you should call an experienced plumber to help thaw your pipes. Frozen pipes can be potentially dangerous if you don’tdon’t thaw them well.
How Can I Permanently Prevent My Pipes From Freezing?
The first solution to permanently dealing with frozen pipes is wrapping your pipes with heat tapes or using cables with thermostat control.
Although the other means are also effective, the best solution to frozen pipes is insulating them to prevent any freezing in the future.
While this process is best suited for locations prone to freezing, you can also insulate your pipes to prevent them from other forms of cold damage. You can also opt for frost-proof faucets instead of other faucets.
However, the most permanent solution is rerouting your pipes from cold areas in your house to warmer regions. Although it’sit’s more expensive than using frost-proof faucets, this option is more permanent and effective.
For colder areas in the house, like the basement, consider adding an extra heat solution, like a room heater in the attic or your basement, to prevent freezing.
Warning Signs of Frozen Pipes
Cracked pipes often follow Frozen pipes. Hence, if your pipes are frozen, chances are they are already broken, so you should call your plumber to check them out.
Here are the warning signs you should look out for;
- Ice or water dripping from your pipes indicates that your pipes are broken and likely to burst.
- If your pipes begin to frost
- A foul smell will start coming from your faucet or your drainage system. Although this sign can indicate other problems with your drainage system, it can also show that there is ice in your pipes, preventing the smell from leaving them.
- Your water taps begin to drain slowly; sometimes, they don’t flow at all.
- The whistle sounds coming from your pipes or bumble when you flush your toilet.
- Dump walls and ceilings indicate that your pipes are leaking, which needs an urgent solution as it can harm your respiratory health.
- You should always check your pipes keenly; sometimes, the pipes may not depict any signs.
Cold weather can cause significant damage to your house and especially your plumbing system. Hence, you should always stay informed on the various ways to prevent your pipes from damage.
The most popular methods of protecting your water systems are; insulating your pipes, leaving your faucet open, and draining outdoor pipes, among others.
Although most of these methods are effective and permanent, you will still find instances when your pipes are frozen. So you must also stay informed on how to thaw frozen pipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Can I Do if My Pipes Are About to Freeze?
You can wrap the frozen area with an electronic heat pad or heat the frozen pipe with a hair dryer. However, the safest method is wrapping damp and heated towels on the pipes until the ice disappears.
2. When Should You Turn off the Water Pipes?
When temperatures drop, you should turn off and drain your outdoor water pipes, including the hoses and the faucets.
3. Is It Reasonable to Shut the Water Valve?
Your outdoor pipes are always likely to freeze and burst when it gets cold during winter. Therefore, you should always drain and turn them off when it starts freezing. You should also close the main valve when you’re you’re not using the taps, or when you’re, you’re leaving the house.
4. What Temperature Will Cause Water Pipes to Burst?
Generally, your area must maintain 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below for about six consecutive hours for your pipes to freeze.
However, this can vary from one house to another depending on your home’s heat insulation and the pipes’ location.
5. How Long Can Pipes Be Frozen Before They Burst?
If you expose your pipes to shallow temperatures for more than 6 hours, your pipes will burst. This is especially common in winter or early spring.