With winter just around the corner, we thought it best to review the issue of freezing pipes. Busted pipes can be very destructive and expensive to repair. With a little bit of prevention you can rest assured that your pipes will not freeze.
How To Prevent Pipes From Freezing and Bursting
Filed Under: In an average winter, one quarter of a million homes have busted pipes caused by freezing. A small hole that is just 1/8″ long can leak as much as 250 gallons of water each day! Even if the hole isn’t inside the home where the water can do all kinds of damage, the wasted water will make for quite an expensive water bill.
There are steps that you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing. And, if you do them now, you won’t have to be outside during the cold weather insulating pipes or fixing leaks. When it comes to something that can seriously damage your home, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Something as simple as leaving your cabinet doors open when you go to bed at night can sometimes prevent freezing. Heat often doesn’t reach inside closed doors, opening them will allow heat from the room to keep the area around the pipes warmer. And, believe it or not, actually letting your hot water drip during the night can also help keep pipes from freezing.
Seal all the air leaks in the area where your water pipes are, during extremely cold weather, outside air can freeze pipes that are even inside your basement or other area. If you have air vents under your home, close them or seal them all up with insulation during the winter to keep cold air out.
One of the most common ways to insulate pipes is to use foam insulation. The foam comes in pipe like tubes and is split down one side to slip over the water pipes. It can be easily cut to fit a size area that you need to insulate. Pipe jackets are usually made of foam, fiber glass or wool felt.
If you use insulating tubes, get them as close together as you can. And, as you get each piece placed on the pipes, tape all of the seams with some wide tape to prevent air leaks. Tape the joints securely as well; the insulation won’t work properly if there are holes and gaps that let the cold air reach the pipes.
You can also use regular batting insulation that comes in narrow rolls especially for pipes. It’s just like the insulation that you use inside walls and it’s just wrapped around the pipes. If you’re really worried about frozen pipes and want to take extra precautions, use heated pipe cable or tape to protect your pipes.
If there’s any insulation already on the pipes, you’ll need to remove it before attaching the heat tape. You should also remove any flammable items away from the heat tape as an extra precaution. If you have existing heat tape on your pipes, you should inspect it on a yearly basis. Although, it’s made to last for several years, the plastic coating can sometimes become cracked leaving raw wire exposed.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly; heat tape should never be wrapped over top of itself. Leave some space between each layer. Not all heat tape works for all pipes. Some of the tape can’t be used on plastic pipes, just make sure you purchase the correct heat tape for the correct job.
Another great advantage of using heat tape is that besides helping to keep your pipes from freezing in the first place, it can slowly thaw them if they do freeze. The automatic heat tape is much safer than the regular types; it will come with a thermostat that will keep the temperature adjusted at a certain level.
When choosing insulation to cover heat tape, make sure that it is waterproof to keep water from soaking through to the electrical elements of the tape. Heat tape is one of the best ways to properly insulate around pipe fittings or spigots.
Once you’ve applied the heat tape, then you can use foam sleeve insulation over top of the tape. Don’t forget to start wrapping your pipes with the plug-in closet to the nearest outlet. And, last of all; don’t forget to plug your heat tape in on those cold winter nights.