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Protect Pipes From Winter Weather

Protect Pipes From Winter Weather

February historically brings some of the coldest winter weather in North Texas, and this year is no exception. Fort Worth TX residents remember to bundle up the kids, and protect themselves from freezing temperatures, but what about taking care of plumbing, pipes and water lines?Freezing winter weather plumbingFreezing is a particular problem in warmer climates such as North Texas, where pipes are located in uninsulated or underinsulated attics or crawl spaces, garages or kitchen cabinets. Other plumbing trouble spots include outdoor hose bibs, sprinkler systems and swimming pools supply lines. As freezing water expands, pipes break, costing Fort Worth residents and business owners thousands of dollars a year. This plumbing nightmare can be prevented, however, with a few simple precautions.

It may be too late to take measures such as draining pools and sprinkler system supply lines or wrapping plumbing with insulated sleeves, tape or newspaper. You can take action during cold weather, however, by doing something as simple as keeping garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

In addition, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm inside air to flow around the pipes. (Be sure to move harmful cleaners or chemicals out of reach of children.)

Running cold water through the pipe – just a slow drip – prevents frozen pipes because the temperature of the running water remains above freezing.

During freezing weather, consider keeping your thermostat set to the same temperature day and night. Heating bills may temporarily rise, but you save the cost of extensive plumbing repairs. If a home or office will be unoccupied for an extended period during cold weather, set the heat no lower than 55 degrees.

Even after taking these cold-weather plumbing precautions, if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you may have a frozen pipe. A frozen pipe is in danger of bursting, so it needs to be located and thawed. The first step: turn off the main water supply to prevent water from gushing out once the pipe is thawed. Then open all the taps in the house to see where water still drips, and where it does not.

No water running anywhere in the house means a pipe near the water meter may be frozen. If water runs in only one part of the house, a pipe along an outside wall or uninsulated crawl space is probably frozen. When the frozen pipe is found, open the affected faucet all the way, and turn on hot water faucets throughout the house. Water will flow once the pipe thaws. Then turn all faucets back to a trickle. Do not turn off the faucet nearest the freeze until water flows freely, indicating a complete thaw.

To thaw out a pipe, warm it gently with a hair dryer, heat lamp, household iron, electric heating cable, heating pad, or hot wet towels. Heating pipes too quickly can cause them to explode. When thawing, always warm pipes starting nearest the open faucet and move toward the frozen area. This prevents a buildup of trapped steam, which might rupture plumbing.

Plumbing pros warn against using kerosene or propane heaters, charcoal stoves, propane torches or pouring boiling water directly on the pipe. Open flames can be a serious fire danger, and you may risk exposure to lethal carbon monoxide. Never use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors or near grounded water pipes.

Continue thawing efforts until all water pressure returns. If you can’t find the frozen area, the pipe is inaccessible or you suspect a broken pipe, call our experienced Fort Worth plumbing professionals. Remember, if one pipe freezes, more pipes may freeze or burst, so let our Fort Worth TX plumbers keep everything running smoothly by giving us a call at 817-983-7876.