An Introduction To Frozen Pipes
Plumbing problems can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, while simultaneously being difficult to detect in many cases. One of the biggest threats that you may face is the possibility of your pipes freezing and bursting. To help you prevent such a calamity from befalling your home, here is some background information on why pipes freeze and how you can reduce the chances of your pipes freezing:
Why do pipes freeze?
Pipes freeze when the water inside dips below a certain temperature. If this happens, then it stops moving and expands, blocking off the pipe and preventing any other water from passing through. However, the real question is exactly how the water in your pipes gets that cold in the first place.
The most obvious answer is that extremely cold temperatures outside will result in cold water in your pipes. The exact amount of heat that escapes the water in your pipes will depend on just how much insulation you have in your pipes and home in general. Poor insulation means a higher likelihood of pipes freezing and bursting.
What is the danger of pipes freezing?
Firstly, the rapid expansion of water in your pipes can force your pipes out of position, even warping their structure. Immediately, this won't cause any clearly visible effects unless you know where to look. Since the ice is still frozen solid, you won't notice any huge leaks.
The problem really appears when the pipe starts to thaw out, meaning that all of the ice will turn to water and stream out of your damaged pipes. Water will continue to flow until you turn off the water, meaning that a lot of damage can happen before you properly handle the situation.
How can you prevent pipes from freezing in the future?
To start, you need to figure out if your pipes are even capable of freezing. If you live somewhere that has warm winters or just doesn't get very cold, then your pipes are not going to freeze unless there is some sort of extremely specific and unlikely development, such as your pipes being coated in refrigerant.
If you do live somewhere that gets cold, then you need to figure out exactly how much insulation y our pipes have. This can be easy in areas of your home that have visible pipes (such as beneath your sink or your basement), but it can be tough to check pipes that are in your walls. If you find that your pipes are lacking in insulation, then it might be a good time to get that looked at by a plumber.
A relatively easy test is to feel your hot water pipes when the hot water is running. This isn't a foolproof test, but if you can really feel the heat of the water, then your pipes are not insulated very well. Contact a 24 hour plumber for help if you think that your pipes might be frozen.