Why Pipes Freeze and Break in Winter

It’s inevitable, the cold hits hard every winter and sometimes, despite all efforts, the cold wins and something breaks or bursts. Your pipes can take a beating in the winter. Prevent and protect your pipes from freezing and breaking, so a spring flood doesn’t hit you early. Your water pipes are at risk for freezing anytime it is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. As the water in the pipes freezes, it expands and your pipe doesn’t expand with it, causing it to rupture.

Some pipes that are vulnerable in your house are any pipes exposed to severe cold. This would include water sprinkler lines, outdoor house bibs, or water supply lines in unheated areas. Some areas to watch out for vulnerable pipes would be in basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets, or pipes running against outside walls with little insulation.

Some tips to prevent your pipes from freezing and breaking include keeping your garage doors closed as much as possible. It is also important to drain any remaining water from your water sprinkler lines before winter and don’t put antifreeze in these lines unless you are specifically directed to. Next, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses and store them inside to prevent them from cracking. After you do that, leave the hose valve open so water can drain and the remaining water will have room to expand as it freezes and won’t break the pipe. Another way to protect your pipes is to keep your thermostat set at a constant temperature during the night and day. If you’re a snowbird leaving for the winter, don’t turn your heat completely off. The lowest you should ever set your thermostat is 55 degrees.

There are a few signs to watch out for so you can be proactive before your pipes burst. One sign is very low water pressure. Low water pressure could also indicate a clog in the pipe, but usually clogs grow, so the decreasing pressure is something you would notice over time.  A likely spot for your pipes to freeze is in an exterior wall or where your water supply enters the home, usually through the foundation. If you can locate the pipe that is starting to freeze, wrap an electric heating pad or blanket around a frozen pipe, use a hair dryer, or a portable space heater. When you’re heating up the pipe leave the faucet open because all that frozen water will need to go somewhere.

All in all, a burst pipe could be around $5,000 in damages, if you’re lucky. The best way out of everything is to use insulation in your attic, basement, crawlspace, garage, anywhere a pipe runs! Pipe insulation can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot. That 50 cents looks much better than $5,000 does. Take care of your pipes beginning in the fall and make sure to keep an eye on them until May, we all know how Minnesota winters go.

If you run into any of these problems first-hand, contact Royal Renovations and we’ll be on our way to restore your pipes to their intended condition, ensuring your house doesn’t freeze during this Minnesota winter.