As the temperatures begin to drop below freezing, your chances for frozen pipes will rise. Frozen pipes can be dangerous, especially if they burst causing water damage in your home. The most common areas where pipes freeze is those exposed to the severe cold, typically unheated places in your home. Outdoor hose nozzles, swimming pool water supply lines, pipes in crawl spaces, unheated garages, exterior wall pipes, and attics are all common culprits of freezing pipes. Here are some precautionary actions you can take to ensure that your pipes don’t freeze this winter.

Prepare for cold weather

Before the temperatures drop below freezing, you should make sure that all water is drained from your outside water lines. Most importantly, remember to drain those that will freeze first. This includes your outdoor sprinkler lines, your swimming pool pipes, and outdoor hoses. Next, check your basement and crawl spaces and make sure that these pipes are insulated properly. Older homes often cause the most issues for homeowners, as the pipes may not be insulated correctly. If you check these spaces and they appear to be insulated properly, it would not hurt to take an extra step of precaution by using a pipe sleeve or heating tape as well.

Doing a pre-winter check will give you peace of mind throughout the winter even when the temperatures drop far below freezing. Even if your pipes are insulated and drained properly, you should still follow some basic rules to make sure that they won’t freeze during those negative temperatures.

Prevent pipes from bursting

Although your heating bills tend to run very high during the coldest winter months in the Midwest, you shouldn’t set your heat too low while you’re away. You need your heater to offset the freezing temperatures. If you set your thermostat too low, you run the risk of even heated areas dropping below freezing temperatures. We recommend not setting your heat below 55 degrees during the winter when temperatures are below freezing. It is important to keep in mind that the temperatures also get much colder at night, so the pipes could freeze while you’re sleeping and you might not know it right away.

Act immediately

If you discover a frozen pipe, you need to respond immediately. At any minute the pipe could burst if you don’t thaw it. The best way to quickly thaw a frozen water line is to use a hairdryer, space heater, or heat lamp to temporarily thaw the pipe. One the pipe is thawed, wrap the pipe in heating tape or a pipe sleeve to keep the pipe from freezing over again quickly. After this, you need to insulate the area surrounding the pipe. If the pipe froze over once, if no other actions are taken, the pipe could easily re-freeze. Add insulation to the area, open up the space to allow heat to access the pipe, or seal off any air drafts near the pipe.

Be aware of interior pipes also

The trouble with frozen pipes is that as more water starts freezing inside them, the more the pipe expands, causing more pressure to build up throughout your entire plumbing system, eventually leading to the pipes bursting. Frozen pipes on the exterior walls or outside your home can actually cause an interior pipe to burst, causing the most severe water damage inside your home.

Perform routine inspections of all areas in your home

A frozen pipe is often hard to detect until it has burst. Routinely check your home’s ceiling, walls, and flooring for pooling water, water spots, and moisture build-up. Mold is also an obvious sign of water damage. If the water has been sitting there for a few days undetected, then mold will start to form, notifying you that a pipe might’ve burst.

Iowa residential & commercial water damage cleanup & repair

ServiceMaster by Rice performs water damage cleanup for residential and commercial properties in the Midwest. If the water damage is severe, our service technicians also perform mold cleanup and removal services. If your home is affected by frozen pipes that burst this winter, call us at 1-800-727-8515 for emergency water clean-up or water extraction in Central Iowa.