Pipes Frozen? Call SOS For A Free Estimate!
As anyone that lives in Minnesota can tell you, it is a place of extremes. Hot and muggy summers at one end of the year and freezing, unrelenting winters on the other. In a place known for lakes and rivers, copious amounts of snow, and rain, Minnesota is at the mercy of its water. In the wintertime, when all that water changes to snow and ice, it can get even worse.
Frozen pipes are the source of unaccountable frustrations, millions of dollars in property damage, and can show you that there are three things that when you run out of them, you know it immediately: Money, toilet paper, and water.
Recognizing the symptoms
If your pipes freeze there are a number of ways you will be able to identify this:
- Turning your faucets on and off repeatedly. You might not immediately realize your pipes are frozen. The residual water in your pipes might give the illusion that nothing has happened. You might turn on your tap and some water will come out. Probably just enough to get your toothbrush wet. You might flush your toilet. But soon after, you can tell what is happening when you turn on your faucet when nothing happens. You will turn it off again, then on. It will slowly begin to dawn on you that there is nothing coming out of the pipe. You might say “How can this be?” This will probably happen when you have a mouth full of toothpaste, need to wash your hands, or are trying to mix up a can of orange juice from concentrate. No matter how many times you turn off that tap and turn it back on again, nothing is going to change.
- The swimming pool that installed itself in your basement overnight.Frozen pipes often mean broken pipes, since water not only expands when you heat it, but it also expands when it freezes. Due to some truly profound physical properties, some of which laws of fluid dynamics have been proven (see Pascal’s law), when water has nowhere to go under pressure, it tends to make its own path. It is this quality that gives us things like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, SuperSoakers, and spontaneously appearing swimming pools in our basements in the middle of winter. When water freezes, it expands. Sometimes right through your copper water lines. The unfrozen water then has somewhere else to go.
- It doesn’t have to be the coldest day to freeze your pipes. It only takes freezing temperatures to freeze water. Sometimes a really cold night won’t freeze your pipes. It might be another cold day or night that freezes them. This is why it is important to disconnect your outside hoses and drain your sprinkler system at the first sign of frost or cold nights. These water sources can also break and create massive amounts of property damage. Garden hoses are especially bad culprits, since they create a 30′ column of ice that creates enough pressure to break pipes and valves.
- Uninsulated, undrained, and simply ignored “until next weekend when I have time to fiddle with it” pipes are susceptible to freezing. Sewer lines are no exception. There is nothing worse than a city crew having to dig a hole in the middle of the street to burn tires to create enough warmth to thaw out your water lines.
- Being able to see your own breath in your house when you wake up in the morning. It’s either ghosts, or you have a bigger problem on your hands.
To prevent any of the above from happening (and so many more), there are a few simple hacks you can do to avoid any of this mess.
- Let your water run. Letting your sink drip continually during the day and night keeps water moving, which keeps it from freezing solid. A light, but steady stream of water will also drain out to the sewer, keeping those pipes clear as well.
- Keep it warm. Pipes on the exterior walls of buildings away from heating sources are vulnerable to freezing. Insulate those pipes.
- Drain it and forget it. Draining and blowing out sprinkler systems and pipes that won’t be in use during the winter will keep them from freezing as well. Exterior spigots, drains, fountains, and other summer friendly areas won’t be missed when it is snowing, and they won’t be damaged when they freeze if they are dry.
- Be aware of your home and surroundings. Sometimes we get busy and overlook something that could be a concern. Make a habit of checking your basement everyday. Check exterior wall bathrooms, faucets, spigots, and other parts of your water system as well.
- Make a seasonal checklist of areas to drain and maintain and stick with that schedule! You might have a game to watch on a Sunday in October, but you can probably afford to miss an hour hiring a crew to blow out the sprinkler systems before winter hits.
Contact us if you have questions on other tips and tricks to avoid frozen pipes. We can offer suggestions and regularly scheduled maintenance to avoid catastrophe, as well as solutions to help you in case you find out too late it has already struck!