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Cold seasons in America are relatively fun. While winter provides opportunities for ice skating, among other fun activities, the same cannot be said about plumbing fixtures. Unfortunately, winter is always approaching, and this does not mean anything good for your plumbing. Therefore, as a diligent homeowner, it is important to understand the effects of winter on your plumbing system and prepare in advance, regardless of the current season. Knowing who to call for your plumbing service is important.
The weather is cold and perhaps dropping drastically with every day’s passing. You turn on your water fixtures, and water is evidently not coming out. Chances are you are dealing with a similar problem as your neighbors, which is frozen water pipes.
Check out this plumbing service guide on frozen water pipes to help you prepare in advance for winter and the accompanying freezing pipes.
What Are Frozen Pipes?
As the name suggests, a frozen pipe is essentially a pipe that freezes due to the surrounding cold weather. Frozen pipes are common in winter. Temperatures tend to drop occasionally, and since water freezes at the prospect of cold, these pipes flowing water tend to suffer the same fate. Unfortunately, frozen pipes result in burst pipes, which is automatic water damage that compromises your home’s structural integrity and interiors.
How can I know if I have frozen pipes? Fortunately, unlike drain leaks which take time to manifest, spotting frozen pipes is easy. However, upon spotting any frozen pipes, expert plumbing services do not advise any attempt at DIY thawing or repairs, especially if you don’t know the extent of the damage. Contact an expert plumbing service Mansfield, TX company to help reverse the situation accordingly.
5 Plumbing Service Signs Your Pipes Are Frozen
Below are a few clues to help you know if you have frozen pipes on your property:
- Notable frost on your pipes. For pipes that you can actively see and reach, for example, those underneath your sink, you can notice the frost that has accumulated on the pipe’s exterior. This is a warning sign of a potential frozen pipe before you turn on the nearest faucet
- Foul Smells. Frozen pipes cause blockages. Consequently, you will notice a strange foul smell coming from the drain or faucet, courtesy of the blockage. Unfortunately, if a pipe is partially or fully blocked as a result of the freezing, the only way the odor can escape is backward in the direction of your Mansfield, TX home
- Water is not coming out of your faucets. Do you lack running water? One of the possible explanations is a partially or completely frozen inlet pipe. If the freezing pipes are located behind a wall and have cracked then thawed, you will likely notice a reduction in water pressure typically caused by water leaking. If you turn on your faucet and you notice a small trickle or no water at all, call an expert plumbing service to check for a possible pipe freeze
- Wet floors and walls. You are likely to detect signs of moisture on your floor or wall that is closest to the impacted pile
- The temperature is right. A pipe rarely freezes if it’s not cold outside for them to freeze. Additionally, water doesn’t freeze when it is 60°F outside, and neither will the pipes. Therefore when the immediate and surrounding temperature falls to 32°F or under, it is advisable to consult an expert plumbing service to help you prevent vulnerable pipes from freezing.
Generally, with frozen pipes, prevention is always better than costly repairs and replacements. Therefore, while we don’t always advocate for DIY pipe repairs and tasks unless trained and authorized to do so, there are a few preventative steps you can take to prevent pipes from freezing.
Dangers of Frozen Pipes
A frozen pipe is a major cause for alarm, whether during winter or not. On the one hand, frozen pipes are a major inconvenience. On the other hand, they can cause severe property damage. Below are the two most prevalent dangers associated with a frozen pipe:
- Low water pressure/ Lack of running water
A frozen pipe provides the inability to access running water. Even when you can, the water pressure will likely be below. This causes an inconvenience, hindering you from performing everyday tasks such as doing your laundry.
- Burst pipes
When a pipe freezes, there is a high likelihood it will burst. Unfortunately, burst pipes require heavy repairs and replacements. Burst pipes expose your home to structural damage and water damage, which includes interior flooding. Understanding why pipes burst is key to preventing what could amount to thousands of dollars in repairs or replacements.
Why Do Pipes Burst or Crack?
Burst pipes are frustrating and are most common in winter when temperatures drop. Below are the major causes of pipes bursting:
- Freezing (frozen pipes)
Freezing pipes are the most common cause of a pipe burst. Scientifically, objects tend to contract when in cold temperatures. Though too small to notice, a metal pipe shrinks in the cold, something which likely happens all the time in winter.
When the water in the pipes becomes cold enough, it begins to expand. Subsequently, the water molecule bond strengthens, and the water starts to line up into crystalline structures.
On the one hand, the pipe expands. Conversely, the water inside the pipe expands continuously. This places the pipes under immense pressure than when the temperature was warmer. The pressure buildup becomes excess, and the pipe ruptures under the continuous strain.
Contrary to popular opinion, the ice doesn’t cause the pipe to burst. Freezing water expands down the pipe’s length. Any air that was present in the pipe gets pressurized between the tap and the ice. Consequently, this air causes the pipe to burst. Shockingly, the pressure is at its worst right as it begins to thaw and not when the water freezes.
- Unsecured Pipes
The water force flowing via unsecured water pipes causes these pipes to move around, a situation commonly known as “water hammer”. Fortunately, you can hear it as water is flowing, and it typically sounds like a clanging in your walls or under your floors.
Gradually, this movement weakens the pipe joints until the impacted area gives way to the water pressure. The result is serious damage since the pressurized water escapes and pours into your walls and surfaces.
What Is the Science Behind Frozen Pipes?
Conditions At Which Pipes Freeze
Are you anticipating where and when a pipe freeze will occur in your Mansfield, TX home? The first factor to watch out for is temperature. If the local weather forecast predicts a temperature dip to 7° or lower, then pipes in your property are likely to freeze. After roughly 5-6 consecutive hours within the said temperature range, that is when a vulnerable pipe will finish the freezing process.
Generally, select pipes are more vulnerable to freezing than others. These pipes prone to freezing more than others include:
- Exterior water pipes. Water pipes installed outside your home are first to freeze in the absence of insulation and heating, as well as when the outdoor temperature shoots below sub-zero
- Attic or basement pipes. Most homes lack proper insulation in either or both of these rooms. Therefore, any pipe installed in either of these rooms is highly prone to freezing due to insufficient heating to combat freezing pipes.
How Long Does a Frozen Pipe Take to Thaw?
If your pipes freeze due to low temperatures, you may choose to wait until eventual thawing. There is no definite time to wait for your pipes to thaw without your assistance since the temperature is the major determining factor. Generally, the rule of thumb when waiting for pipes to thaw is to wait until the temperature improves. This could be days, weeks, or more.
The degree of freezing in your pipes is also another determining factor. A metal pipe tends to thaw slower than a PVC piping. However, it freezes faster.
Unfortunately, underground pipes take even lower to thaw due to the frost permeating soil and prolonging your waiting time. The surrounding soil must thaw first before temperatures are conducive enough for the pipes to thaw independently. If you have any questions make sure that you call a plumbing service.
Should You Wait for Pipes to Thaw?
Waiting too long has severe risks. Pressure may overwhelm the lines, leading to pipe bursts and property flooding. You will also likely run out of water in your faucets. What’s more, burst pipes allow water to seep through, potentially causing mold problems. With these in mind, waiting for pipes to thaw on their own is inadvisable. Immediately you spot signs of frozen pipes, call an expert plumbing service for an immediate course of action.
Handling a Frozen Pipe Problem Like a Pro
At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing service Mansfield, TX, we value our clients’ plumbing systems as much as we value their comfort. Therefore, we don’t recommend DIY thawing of frozen pipes located inside the walls since most homeowners cannot locate these pipes.
Unfortunately, even with the proper thawing methods, focusing on the wrong section often leads to mistakes that cost you time and possibly money in damages. However, if the situation is abrupt and you have already contacted a plumbing service, there are a few advisable things you can do within your limits. These include:
- Turn up your thermostat
Ideally, you are not thawing the frozen pipes directly. Turning up your home temperature is an ideal temporary solution immediately you spot a frozen pipe. This saves time by heating the whole house, especially if you can’t pinpoint the exact location as you wait for an expert plumbing service.
It is important to note that this doesn’t work for outdoor pipes or pipes installed in uninsulated parts of your Mansfield, TX home. Your best alternative is to call our plumbing service, Mansfield TX professionals, for emergency action.
- Remove anything that may be damaged by water
Depending on what stage you discover the frozen pipes, there may be a likelihood of the frozen pipes bursting. Unfortunately, burst pipes expose your home to structural compromise and water damage. If you have any electronics, furniture, or porous items within a few meters of the pipe, ensure you clear them off the area in the slightest chance that the pipe bursts. However, before doing, ensure you call a professional plumbing service who should be at your place by the time you finish mitigating the damage.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Frozen and burst pipes may be inevitable in different scenarios. However, if you want to proactively avoid the excess damage typical of freezing pipes, below are a few practical steps you can take:
- Turn off water from outdoor faucets and hoses
Ensure you turn off the water flow and completely drain your hoses and outdoor faucets since these fixtures are almost useless during winter. In most cases, their adjacent pipes are usually the ones most prone to freezing
- Maintain your thermostat at a constant temperature
At least 12°C throughout your whole house is enough to reduce the chances of your pipes freezing
- Turn off and drain every interior fixture
If you anticipate or plan on traveling for an extended period, ensure you turn off and drain water from every fixture in the house before leaving
- Pipe insulation
Consider calling a plumbing service to install insulation on vulnerable pipes located on your exterior walls or in cold, uninsulated parts of your home.
Winterizing Your Home’s Plumbing
Winterizing your plumbing pipes is the process of prepping your household plumbing for freezing temperatures that can potentially cause breaks and leaks in your home. As noted above, water freezes and expands as it becomes ice. The expansion produces pressure which leads to pipe damage and costly repairs.
Winterizing your plumbing is recommended if your house will be vacant for an extended duration and no water is expected to run via the pipes. This process involves emptying your water heater and draining all your pipes and fixtures completely.
More importantly, it involves filling every household fixture with an anti-freeze solution. Are you unfamiliar with any home winterizing steps to prevent pipe leaks and damages? Contact our expert plumbing service professionals at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing service Mansfield, TX for actionable tips and implementation.
Expert Plumbing Service, Mansfield, TX
Texans have the advantage of favorable seasons throughout the seasons. Unlike in select parts of the country, Texas does not experience prolonged winter or cold seasons. Regardless, it is important to be always prepared in the sudden event of cold weather that exposes your plumbing to freezing. If you notice any sign of a frozen pipe, call an expert plumbing professional from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth for fast and professional plumbing service in Mansfield, TX.