Water has a unique characteristic—it expands as it freezes. This is why ice cubes seem taller than the water you poured into an ice cube tray or why cans of soda sometimes explode in the freezer. A similar idea applies to your pipes. By avoiding frozen pipes when the weather gets cold, you’ll prevent water damage and costly plumbing repairs.
Why Frozen Pipes Burst
The radial expansion of frozen water inside a pipe is not what causes it to crack. When there’s a complete ice blockage inside a pipe, water pressure between the blockage and a closed faucet increases. When the pressure builds to a particular level, the pipe fails and cracks.
Tips for Avoiding Frozen Pipes
Before freezing temperatures arrive:
- Drain the water from outdoor supply lines. Such lines include sprinkler and fountain supply lines. Do not use antifreeze in the lines unless the manufacturer recommends that you do so.
- Disconnect, drain and store garden hoses. Then allow water to drain by opening outdoor hose bibs. Close any inside valves that supply water to outdoor hose bibs. However, keep the outside valves open to reduce the risk of a burst pipe if any of the remaining water freezes and expands.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas of the home and property. Areas of the home that may contain pipes include the crawl space, basement, attic and garage. The bathroom and kitchen cabinets may also house hot and cold water pipes, which you should insulate. Hardware and home supply stores sell products that specifically insulate pipes, such as sleeves and heat tape, and polystyrene-like covers for outdoor spigots.
- Open the cabinet doors. When temperatures plummet, keep some of the pipes in your home warm by opening the doors to bathroom and kitchen cabinets that house pipes.
- Let the water drip. During extreme cold spells, let water drip from faucets to relieve any pressure in the pipes.
For more advice about avoiding frozen pipes or keeping your home comfortable during the cold fall and winter months, contact Arpi’s Industries, LTD at 403-236-2444 or online. We’ve served Alberta’s Calgary area for over five decades.
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