Frozen pipes may sound innocent enough, but the real problems arise if they burst. A crack as small as an eighth of an inch can gush up to 250 gallons of water each day, resulting in flooding, a breeding ground for mold and potential structural damage to your home. Both plastic and copper pipes can freeze and burst in any climate if three conditions are met: poor insulation, quick drops in temperature and thermostats set too low. So how can you prevent this expensive disaster?
Take some time to prepare your pipes for the worst of winter. If they aren’t already, insulate the pipes with heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables, focusing on the pipes in the attic and near outside walls. Check for air leaks near pipes and seal them with caulk or insulation. Even a small leak can let in enough cold air to freeze a pipe.
When the cold reaches freezing levels, leave your faucet open to drip warm water. That slow trickle can keep the water moving enough to avoid freezing. It also helps to leave cabinet doors open to allow the heated air to reach pipes underneath sinks. Even if you leave for a vacation, set the thermostat no lower than 60°F to give the pipes enough warmth. Remember, the interior of the walls where the pipes are located is a colder area than inside the living areas; a higher temperature is necessary so the heat can penetrate the walls and warm this interior space.
If your pipes do freeze, despite your best efforts, it’s important to stay calm and act quickly. Call a plumber right away. While you wait, turn the faucets on and try to warm the pipe with a hair dryer, starting close to the faucet and working back. However, do not use electrical appliances if there is standing water and do not use any open flame that would create a fire hazard. If your pipes burst at any point, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve and do your best to dry the mess while help arrives. Keeping the area dry and clean will prevent mold and mildew from causing further problems.
We’ve got your back when you need us most. Call Security First Insurance Agency at (810) 732-5800 for more information on Flint home insurance.