It’s been a brisk month here in Raleigh, North Carolina with temperatures dipping into the 20’s and teens late into the evening.
Experienced homeowners know there are some key factors to consider in pipe preparation, and duties to perform before going to bed on a cold night. How do experienced homeowners know what to do? Unfortunately it’s often because we’ve suffered the consequences… and have vowed never to make those same mistakes twice.
Waking up after a frigid night with no hot water (or water at all) is an inconvenience at best, and is often costly.
So, let’s start with emergency situations…
How do I know if my home water pipes are frozen?
If temperatures are below 32° F and your faucets are turned to open… but you’re only getting a trickle of water (or nothing), there is a good chance you have a frozen pipe. If only one or the other of hot/cold flows this is another indication. Frozen pipes often occur in crawl spaces, against exterior walls, and where water connects through the foundation.
What should I do if I have frozen water pipes?
If your residential water pipes are frozen – keep your faucets open. As ice begins to melt, any flowing water that can get through will help to melt ice within the pipe.
Warm your pipes with an electric hair dryer in the areas most susceptible to freezing (crawlspaces, exterior walls, and around the foundation). The American Red Cross offers additional ideas on how to warm pipes. Applying heat to the right locations will help thaw the pipe to restore full water pressure.
Look out for cracks and burst pipes! Water pipes tend to crack down the long side of a pipe. If your pipes are still frozen you may not be aware yet that your pipe has a crack. As the ice in a burst or cracked pipe thaws and flow is restored, water will find the point of least resistance and you could have a real mess on your hands.
What should I do if I have a crack or break in my water pipe?
If you see or suspect a cracked pipe:
- 1st: Go to the main shut-off valve and turn off the water.
- 2nd: Leave the faucets on to relieve pressure.
- 3rd: Call a licensed plumber.
How do I keep my water pipes from freezing?
We have our fingers crossed that you’re just researching preventative information and are not in an emergency situation. If this is the case – congratulations! We hope you’ll never have to experience cracked pipes.
- Insulating exposed pipes by wrapping or by using insulation sleeves.
- Caulking any cracks and holes near your water pipes around the foundation and outside walls.
- Allow water to flow from each valve at a slow trickle through faucets, bathtubs and showers that have pipes connected through an unheated space.
- Keeping under sink cabinet doors open (kitchens, bathrooms and possibly the laundry room or bar area). This allows warm air to circulate around the pipes.
* If you’re going on vacation and your home will be vacant during a cold period, consider draining the water system to avoid water damage caused by cracked pipes.
I need an expert, who should I call?
If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, we work with and recommend licensed plumbers with Cary Plumbing. We’ve experienced exceptional customer service and quality work with them. We hope this helps.
If you’re considering buying or selling a home in or around Wake County we’d love an opportunity to talk with you. It is our goal to be our clients #1 resource for all things home buying and selling in the Triangle.
Stay warm out there!