Frozen pipes are a serious problem and potentially a costly issue for Dallas homeowners. This was especially evident in the recent “snowpocalypse,” which wreaked havoc in North Texas. An estimated 1.4 million Texans faced water disruptions even a week later. Many homeowners experienced burst pipes which left them with flooded homes and no running water for days.
As a homeowner, you are already faced with a myriad of decisions and expenditures for your property. So how exactly do you mitigate this risk during freezing temperatures? How do you ensure you don’t fall victim to costly pipe repairs? The answers to these questions may seem simple, but they aren’t and could very well be the difference between having running water in your home or dealing with a costly pipe repair.
Common Types of Pipes
Let us begin by understanding the two most common types of pipes in your home–copper and PEX. PEX pipes are a durable, plastic material and cost less than copper. PEX generally tends to have a longer life span than copper; it can also expand, contract, and then return to its original size. Due to its ability to shrink and expand, PEX resists freezing more effectively than rigid pipes, but it can still burst if water freezes in a line. While also durable, copper expands and contracts when heating and cooling, so the chance of breaking when frozen is not mitigated. Copper pipes are also more susceptible to corrosion & pinhole leaks.
What Causes Pipes to Freeze?
When pipes freeze, they tend to crack and break, causing faucet fixtures to run air instead of water, which is a telltale sign that your pipes may be frozen.
Exposed pipes are at the greatest risk during freezing weather. Pipes can be found exposed in the attics of some homes or underneath the home in pier and beam homes. Pier & beam homes are aptly named since they are usually concrete, brick, or stone slabs supported by wooden piers or beams. The exposed pipes are subjected to the harsh elements outside during freezing and have a greater chance of cracking.
Burst plumbing lines underneath homes or under foundations can also be especially pricey. Due to the placement of the pipes, slab leaks or tunneling under foundations to repair piping can fetch a hefty price tag. Pipe leaks within the walls of your home can also cause mold over time if they are not repaired immediately, which is why proper leak detection by an expert HVAC contractor in your area is pertinent.
How to Prevent Freezing & Burst Pipes
So how do you prevent all the doom and gloom of broken pipes? Most of the time, it can be as simple as leaving your faucets on a steady drip in the home during potential freezes. While the kitchen and bathroom faucets are the most common, dripping all the fixtures in your home can help mitigate the threat of frozen pipes. Make sure to mix hot and cold water to keep those pipes from freezing.
Homeowners usually tend to forget about exposed pipes. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Let us touch on the most common one, hose bibs. A hose bib is the connector for your lawn equipment, such as hoses and other lawn essentials. A frost guard should cover them. Frost guards can be found at your local hardware store and essentially covers the hose bib and protects it from freezing temperatures. Several newer homes have been built with frostproof bibs, which are made to endure extreme cold temps.
Insulating exposed pipes are a great way to prevent pipes from freezing. As mentioned before, you can find these exposed pipes in your attic or under your home. Foam guards can be placed around the exposed pipes to add a layer of protection from outdoor conditions. If you are worried about your pipes in the attic, try wrapping some newspaper around them before the freezing weather. Even one-fourth of an inch of paper can provide some protection for your non-insulated pipes for a short period.
Finally, keeping your home warm during the winter months can also prevent pipes from freezing. Make sure to keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night during potential freezing weather.
— Thomas Evans
Frymire Home Services understands the importance of quality plumbing. We believe in educating and informing our customers to help them become experts in their homes’ plumbing. To learn more about plumbing, visit our website at www.frymire.com or call us at 469-346-4999 to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed technicians.