by Ray A. Shaffer, Inc. on January 27, 2017

Tips for Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

heating_efficiency_winterize_homeWhen cold winter days and nights come around, do the pipes in your home freeze up from time to time? It's a nuisance, to be sure. But it can also lead to larger and more costly problems.

As water turns to ice inside your pipes, it expands, increasing the pressure within. With nowhere to go, ice pushes outwards until the pipes burst, triggering a flood inside your house.

To prevent this from happening in your house, try these simple tips.

Keep Attic Windows and Garage Doors Shut

Many homes have pipes installed in places where there’s very little insulation, like the garage or the attic. You can delay pipes from becoming frozen by ensuring that doors and windows are kept closed in order to keep the warmth in. If that's not enough, you may want to add insulation and additional sources of heat to the area. Otherwise, a professional plumber can reroute the pipes through heated portions of your home.

Use Heating Tape

You can keep your pipes warm by installing heating tape on them. Made with a filament that heats up inside it, this tape wraps around your pipe and plugs right into a standard electrical outlet.

If you prefer an option that doesn't consume electricity, you can try wrapping your pipes in foam insulation. This solution isn't quite as effective, but it is somewhat less costly.

Warm Up Your Pipes by Running the Hot Water

When you turn on your hot water taps and let it run for a while, the hot water traveling through the pipes heat them up and can help prevent ice from forming inside.

Do the same with your cold-water tap. Although the cold water won't necessarily heat up the pipes, when water circulates through the pipe, it reduces the chance of ice building up by not allowing it to remain in particularly cold areas.

You Have A Frozen Pipe. Now What Should You Do?

winterize_your_homeIf you find you have a pipe that has frozen but hasn’t burst yet, you must act quickly to thaw the blockage. It's a good idea to first shut off the water supply to your home to minimize the potential damage should the pipe break.

In most homes, you'll find the main shut-off valve close to where the water line enters the home next to the water meter. Then, turn some taps on in the house to relieve the pressure in the pipes.

The key is to increase the heat around the affected pipe. You can do so by placing space heaters in the area. A heat lamp might also do the trick. Another great way to warm up the pipes is to use your hair dryer on the hottest setting and point it directly at the frozen pipe. We don't suggest using a torch because pipes are often located near flammable objects, and a torch aimed at the wrong place could weaken joints in the pipes.

If these methods don't succeed, it's time to seek the help of an expert. For plumbing emergencies like this, you can rely on the Schwenksville area experts at Ray A Shaffer Incorporated. Call us right away at 610-287-7831.


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