Top 10 Tips To Prevent Broken Pipes
During the cold winter months, broken pipes sometimes occur after the water in them has frozen. Water expands as it freezes, and, if the water is trapped inside a pipe with no escape, the expanding ice will cause the pipe to burst. Cracks may appear along the length of a pipe, or joints may break away.
If a broken pipe isn’t caught quickly, the water will leak or spray out continuously and can result in significant water damage that is costly to repair. These tips will help you prevent broken pipes from occurring in the first place.
- Insulating pipe wraps can be installed on hot and cold water pipes that pass through unheated areas in a crawlspace, basement, or cellar. These wraps kept hot water warm longer and will prevent cold winds from freezing water lines so easily.
- Electrical heat tape can be applied to exposed pipes as well. This product supplies warmth to the exterior of a pipe using an electrical current in order to stop the water from freezing. A heat tape should be installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- It’s important to seal off air vents in the crawlspace as winter approaches each year. With the vents left open, cold winds blow through the space unhindered and can easily freeze pipes.
- Before winter, it’s a good idea to disconnect hoses from the water supply, drain, and store them. To protect outdoor faucets from freezing, they should be shut off, using a main water valve if possible, and thoroughly drained.
- Consider installing frost-free water hydrants in place of standard outdoor faucets. A frost-free hydrant uses a pipe that is buried more than two feet underground. Each time the hydrant is used and then turned off, the excess water drains until it is below the “frost zone” of the ground.
- If leaving home for several days or longer during cold weather, it can be helpful to shut off the main water valve and drain water from pipes inside the home. This will prevent the unpleasant surprise of broken pipes when you return home.
- When sub-freezing temperatures are expected, it can be helpful to leave cabinet doors under sinks open. This allows warm air from the home to flow around the pipes and reduces the chance that they’ll freeze.
- Along with leaving cabinet doors open, the water faucets should be left to trickle water at night when temperatures may freeze pipes. This slight flow of water can help prevent ice from forming.
- If a pipe does freeze, keep the faucet open even though no water is currently flowing. A frozen pipe doesn’t always equal a broken pipe. As the water thaws, it needs an escape route and will flow through the faucet. If the faucet is closed, though, the pipe will break to allow the water to escape.
- Each family member should know the location of the home’s main shut-off valve. If a pipe does burst, shutting off the water quickly will prevent major damage.