It used to be the case that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rarely experienced cold snaps that dropped low enough to place pipes at risk. If the past few years of weather in Texas have shown us anything, though, it’s that the unpredictable is quickly becoming normal.
Homeowners across Texas and most of the country have faced unpleasant lows in recent days, so you may be tempted to assume that if your pipes made it through lows in the teens, they’ll make it through anything. Unfortunately, the winter is just starting, and there’s no way to predict when the next cold front will blow through or how low the temperatures will get. Taking action now is the best way to prevent frozen pipes during the coldest nights of the year.
When Will Pipes Freeze?
As just about everyone knows, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean your pipes will be in grave danger each time the temperatures drop below freezing. While it’s impossible to predict the exact temperatures that will leave your pipes frozen, most homeowners don’t start reporting problems until the outdoor temperatures drop below 20 degrees.
The problem with making generalizations like the one above is that they aren’t very accurate and can leave you with a false sense of security. A multitude of factors goes into determining the temperature at which your pipes will freeze. They include:
- The age of your homes plumbing.
- Where the pipes are located in your home.
- How much insulation you have.
- How long the temperatures remain below freezing.
- What the wind chill is outside.
Some of these factors are protective, such as pipes that are located far from exterior walls and homes with excellent insulation. Others increase the chances that your pipes will freeze. You’re most likely to experience problems with burst pipes when the weather dips below freezing for six hours or more, but wind chill increases those chances significantly.
How to Prepare Plumbing for a Cold Snap
By far the best way to prevent plumbing lines from freezing is to winterize the plumbing properly. Keep an eye on the weather. If the forecast is calling for below-freezing temperatures, take the time to get the pipes ready.
Winterizing Outdoor Plumbing
If there’s one plumbing fixture that’s more likely to cause problems than any other, it’s your hose bib. You can prepare the outdoor plumbing by turning it off and removing the water from the lines. Start by locating the shut-off valve. It can usually be found inside your home on the wall or ceiling that’s closest to the outdoor spigot. Once you’re sure the water supply is turned off, go back outside and drain the water.
Whether your home is well-insulated or not, you may want to consider insulating any pipes found in the crawl space or other unheated areas of your home. If you’re not sure which pipes to insulate or whether your plumbing lines will be susceptible, to begin with, ask one of our expert plumbers.
Protecting Plumbing When No One’s Home
If you’re planning to head off on a vacation this winter, it’s best to leave the thermostat set to at least 50 or 55 degrees. It may feel wasteful with energy prices on the rise, but it’s better to pay a little more on your gas or electric bill than it is to come home to serious, and often very expensive, water damage from a burst pipe. You may also want to make arrangements with a neighbor to check on the property after any serious cold snaps to make sure there aren’t any obvious leaks.
What to Do When a Pipe Freezes
Already dealing with frozen pipes? The best thing to do is to entrust them to the experts at Master Tech Service Corp. You can contact us online or call us for help dealing with your plumbing emergency.