Preventing Your Pipes From Bursting During The Winter

How do pipes freeze and burst?

frozen pipe

When water freezes it expands, for example when you put a can of soda in the freezer and you forget to take it out, it explodes. So when water freezes in a pipe, it expands the same way, and if it expands enough, the pipe will burst, and potentially damage your home.

Usually such incidents occur from (1) poorly insulated pipes, cracks that allow cold air in your house (located near your pipes) will reach these pipes and freeze them, (2) lack of insulation on pipes located outside of your building insulation such as basements, attics, and crawl spaces, and (3) not running your faucets and fixtures for an extended period of time (perhaps because of a vacation), allows the water that was left sitting to be more susceptible to freezing.


Do temperatures drop low enough in Southern California to actually freeze pipes?

The answer is yes, it is still possible for your pipes to freeze. According
to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (a nonprofit organization), although the “temperature alert threshold” is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it is still possible for pipes to freeze when temperatures are above 20 degrees, especially when it is windy and cold air finds it way to your pipes due to lack of insulation or outside cracks in your home.

How costly are burst pipes?

burst pipe damage

First of all if you have a basement, according to the IIBHS, your pipes have a higher risk of experiencing frozen pipe failure. Also the damage costs can exceed $5000, considering there will be pipes that will need to be re
placed, there will be damaged walls, ceilings or floors from the burst, and also the labor costs that will be necessary for accessing your pipes, whether they are underground or behind walls.

What can I do to prevent my pipes from freezing?

insulate pipes

  • If your pipes, are not insulated, the first step to take is having them insulated, this can be a common issue in older homes. It will cost you .50 cents per foot of pipe you insulate, which on average can cost you $168. That sure beats the potential $5000 you can be wasting if water damage were too occur.
  • A common misconception is that by simply insulating your pipes you are saved from frozen pipes. The fact of the matter is that your pipes can actually still burst from very warm temperatures. That is why the next step to take would be to wrap your pipes with UL heat tape which prevents overheating.seal cracks and leaks
  • Allow your bathroom & kitchen faucets to drip both hot & cold water. As referenced before, allowing water to run in your pipes helps prevent it from sitting and freezing.
  • When using a furnace to keep warm, open your bathroom & kitchen cabinets to allow heat into the pipes below.
  • Caulk and seal any cracks or leaks that allow cold air into proximity with pipes. This also means keeping your garage closed (if you have one) as well as your basements and crawl spaces.
  • If going on a vacation, drain your water system which can be done by, shutting off the main valve, and turning on all your faucets and fixtures (hot and cold).foam cover on exterior faucets
  • Lastly place foam covers on any exterior faucets and disconnect and drain your garden hose.
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