Did you have a problem with frozen pipes or broken pipes last winter? Each winter, thousands of homeowners in Virginia lose water service due to frozen and broken pipes and water meters. It’s not too soon to start thinking about how to prevent problems this winter.
Repairing and replacing frozen pipes and water-damaged walls, floors, and items on the floors can be expensive and time-consuming. The homeowner has a further expense by being responsible for paying for water that leaks from a broken pipe. It can cost more than $100 to replace a broken water meter. The following article explains ways of preventing frozen pipes in VA and what to do when a pipe does become frozen.
What can I do now to prevent pipes and meters from freezing?
There are several things you should do before the weather gets below freezing again:
- Find the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or breaks, you’ll know where to shut it off immediately.
- Identify which areas of your home are most vulnerable to frozen pipes, including basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms, and outside walls.
- Insulate your pipes and water meter. By wrapping exposed pipes with insulation or electrical heating wires, you will protect your pipes from freezing. If you do it yourself, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid a fire hazard.
- Eliminate sources of cold air sources near water pipes by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, sealing crawl spaces and preventing drafts near doors.Reliable Waterproofing & Masonry offers services in both crawl space sealing and foundation repair to avoid problems with freezing.
- Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and, if possible, shut off outside water valves.
- For outside meters, make sure the lid to the meter is closed tightly. If snow falls on top of it, don’t worry because snow acts as a good insulator.
What should I do when it gets below freezing?
When the outside temperature is consistently below freezing, there are a few precautions that you can take to prevent water pipes from breaking.
- At night, when it is coldest, turn on a small trickle of water from both your cold and hot water faucets. The cost of the extra water is minimal compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe. If you don’t want to waste water, collect it in a bowl for feeding pets or watering plants.
- Leave open cabinet doors, even just a crack, to expose pipes to the warmer air in the room.
What if I’m going to be gone for more than a few days?
If you plan to leave your home for more than a few days, it is wise to take a few extra precautions.
- Don’t turn your thermostat down below 50 degrees. It is important to keep a minimal level of heat inside the house.
- Ask a neighbor, friend, or relative to check your home occasionally to make sure the heat is working and pipes aren’t frozen.
- Consider purchasing a freeze alarm, which costs less than $100. It will call any specified number if the indoor temperature drops below 45 degrees.
What should I do if my pipes do freeze?
If you do have the misfortune of a frozen pipe, there are certain steps you should take first.
- Turn your water off immediately at the shut-off valve. Freezing may have caused the pipes to crack, and thawing them without turning off the water may cause them to leak through undetected cracks.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by either warming the air around it by raising the room temperature or using a space heater. You can also apply heat directly to the pipe with a hairdryer or hot water. For safety purposes, keep an eye on space heaters and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- When the pipes are thawed, turn on the water gradually and check for any cracks or leaks.
- If you do have a cracked or broken pipe, your only choice is to a plumber to repair it before you turn the water back on.
These simple measures can assure that you won’t have a problem with frozen pipes or water meters next year. Contact us if you have further questions about how to insulate your crawl space and repair problems with your masonry or foundation wall to avoid frozen pipes.