Monday, February 10, 2014

Protecting Pipes in Freezing Temperatures

During the winter months the threat of freezing pipes can leave many homeowners worried, but what is it about a frozen pipe that causes such an issue? Practically every home in the country will experience the effects of freezing temperatures at some stage this winter so the chances are anyone without the correct pipe protection will be affected in some way. It’s important to be aware of how the temperatures can affect the pipes in your home and discover a few ways to help prevent freezing pipes during the coldest nights this winter.

Once the cold temperatures arrive and water starts to freeze, it also begins to expand. This expanding process is the same culprit for potholes on the roads during winter where water gets trapped in the roads and starts to expand, breaking up the solid ground. Unfortunately, the same process happens when water freezes in pipes and this can cause piping to burst, resulting in leaks around the house and other potentially serious consequences.

Houses in the South of the country tend to be more vulnerable to the cold temperatures as the majority of properties do not make pipe insulation a main priority. Insulating pipes is a much more serious issue in the North as they tend to experience increased spells of cold weather. The climate in the South means that pipes are often placed in areas that are not protected from the cold. Freezing in pipes also occurs less frequently in the South so the awareness is much lower in this part of the country.

In order to combat the potential for freezing water in pipes and blockages due to a build up of ice, a number of safety measures are taken into account. Firstly, insulation can be installed for the sole purpose of keeping the pipeline free from sub zero temperatures. This stops the cold from reaching the water in the pipes. On the other hand, insulation throughout the placement in which the pipes are held in place stops freezing temperatures from reaching the pipes entirely. Having this insulation installed is the perfect way to prevent blockages and bursting in the pipeline.

There are other ways that the cold air can reach the pipes in a property. Any gaps, cracks or holes in property walls are likely to attract cold air which can continue to spread throughout the house, including through the pipework. Usually, this kind of cold air access can’t do enough to cause major problems to the pipework, although an absence of heat and a lack of insulation are two key factors in the gradual freezing of pipes in a household.

If you turn the water on and the flow is weak or completely dry, it’s vital that you call a plumber as soon as possible. Freezing pipes can cause long term damage and you will ultimately have to pay a lot more to give you access to water for the rest of winter. If it’s completely urgent and you need a way of thawing the pipes urgently, you can use an appliance such as a hairdryer to increase the flow of heat to the pipes. 

About the Author

Terry Conway writes for a number of online journals on property maintenance issues and has contributed this post on behalf of Apex Building Solutions, expert providers of insurance approved home repair work.

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