Plummeting temperatures during cold Rocky Mountain winters can spell disaster for homeowners that are either unaware of potential frozen pipe issues or unprepared. Some simple tips can save you thousands of dollars and a whole lot of headache moving into the coldest part of the year.
Montana winters bring crisp air, beautiful white snow, skiing to make Nordic natives jealous and really cold temperatures. Really cold temperatures bring a myriad of problems with them including, but of course not limited to, frozen pipes. What are some helpful hints to make sure you’re not calling a plumber to thaw your pipes when it’s a balmy -25°F?
The first and most important tip for any homeowner is to know where your main water shut off valve is located. This is an important item whether the temperatures have dipped below zero or not. There are a number of different scenarios that might require turning the water main to your home off and this is a must know. The second step is to check that all exterior hose bibs are off. Disconnecting hoses as cooler weather approaches in the fall is important and while newer hose bibs are purposely fitted to drain themselves, some older homes may have an interior shut off valve.
According to the experts at Buffalo Restoration, water exerts 2000lbs of pressure per square inch as it expands as ice causing pipes to rupture. Both plastic and copper plumbing can freeze but copper piping is more likely to burst. During the construction process you can be proactive by working with your architect and builder to not place pipes on an outside wall including bathroom vanities. If plumbing will be going into exterior walls work with your builder to make sure enough insulation is present to insure your pipes are protected.
If you’re worried about the safety of your plumbing there are steps to take when severe cold weather arrives. Take preventative measures including opening all cupboard doors under kitchen sinks and beneath bathroom vanities. A special note, if you have young children in your home please remember to remove all cleaning materials from these areas. Turn faucets (cold water) to a slow drip as running water does not freeze.
What to do if your pipes freeze?
If water is running very slowly or stops flowing entirely from a faucet you’re most likely experiencing a frozen pipe. If only one faucet has stopped flowing the problem is mostly likely localized. Turn your main water valve off as soon as you notice the issue. Open other faucets to release any pressure built up in your plumbing lines. Immediately call a plumber or a restoration company, who can help you make sure to find a reputable provider. They will work to slowly heat any ice in your pipes to remove the block and can check your remaining plumbing to assure you don’t have any potential future restoration problems. Cleaning and drying any water that has been displaced is important to prevent these futures problems including possible mold threats and should be handled by professionals like Buffalo Restoration to insure proper mitigation.
Some additional preventative tips to help prevent frozen pipes during extreme cold weather include checking rooms in your home that are not used regularly (guest baths, mechanical spaces, and basement areas, etc) for water leakage or visible pipe damage. Never leave space heaters unattended in your home when trying to warm local areas that include plumbing. If you notice any areas of wet or frozen water beneath exterior hose bibs that aren’t related directly to snow melt or run off from your home turn off the water main and call a professional.
Frozen water pipes can become a serious problem if not attended immediately and dealing with the aftermath can be very costly and might even result in displacing homeowners while the mop up takes place. An ounce of prevention is absolutely worth a pound of cure in this instance and if you have any questions regarding how to prevent issues in your home, feel free to contact Buffalo Restoration or any reputable plumber.