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Preventing Frozen Pipes

Water pipes running through uninsulated areas such as slabs, exterior walls, basements, and garages are at great risk for freezing issues when temps get frigid. If you’ve had frozen pipes in the past, then you know you are susceptible. Frozen pipes can cause a tremendous amount of property damage. In fact, water damage from burst pipes is one of the most common, and expensive, causes of property damage in Maine.

When the outside temperature falls below 20° F, take precautions for uninsulated pipes running through unheated spaces!

When frozen pipes can easily cause upwards of $5,000 in repairs, it’s pretty obvious that we should do everything we can to prevent that from happening!

Unheated, Uninsulated areas are at the greatest risk:

  • Crawl spaces
  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Bump Out Additions
  • Additions Extending Outside of the Foundation Walls
  • Garages

There are some fairly simple things you can do to help prevent frigid temperatures from reaching your water pipes and causing them to freeze:

Turn UP the Heat

The cheapest thing to do is actually turn up the heat. Make it warmer than you are accustomed to, up into the 70’s, to keep the air radiating throughout your home warmer. When you keep it warmer inside, the freeze barrier moves farther out of your house and away from pipes. Sure, this will use some extra fuel, but that’s better than the damage and cost of frozen pipes!

Open Doors

This technique dates back to our grandparent’s time as a trusted practice. Open and leave open any cabinet doors enclosing pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room. Allowing interior heat to circulate in cabinetry on exterior walls can go a long way to preventing frozen pipes.

Also open doors to cold areas like the basement or rooms with plumbing that you don’t use to allow heat to move to these cold areas.

Open Faucets

If you are susceptible to frozen pipes, take the precautionary route during really cold snaps to allow faucets to trickle water. If you start to notice a restriction in the water flow from a fixture, there may be a freeze area that is creating a choke point. Letting a faucet drip keeps a small amount of warmer water going through the pipes and prevents freezing.

Important Point of Caution: Beware of Thaw
A pipe can suddenly burst when the temperature goes up and things start thawing out. When something is frozen, there is no water flowing. However, when it begins to thaw out and the water starts moving, the pressure can cause that pipe to burst. Always keep an eye on risky areas.

Shut Off Water

If you are concerned about a freeze, or you can’t get any water out of fixtures, then shut off your well pump power or the main shut off valve at your town water intake. That way, if you do have a burst pipe occur, the amount of damaging water that will come out will be limited.

Close Windows & Doors

It doesn’t take much for water pipes in the garage to freeze when you leave the garage door open for any period of time. Also make sure there are no open or drafty windows in your basement, attic, and unused spaces.

Insulate

Pipe tube insulation offers a little bit of protection, but you can’t rely on it during a deep freeze. Also, the real problem is the pipes we can’t see – enclosed in walls, floors and ceilings. But for the low cost of this tubing, it’s worth doing.

Antifreeze Treatments

If you have a forced hot water heating system, we have an antifreeze treatment to protect at-risk pipes from freezing. This treatment uses traditional glycol antifreeze, but MUST be done by a professional to ensure proper proportions, etc. This treatment can last several years, but should be checked annually for acidity which can be checked during your annual inspection/cleaning. If you are unsure if your system should be treated with antifreeze, please give us a call to learn more.

We’re here to help!

At Gelinas HVAC, we provide 24/7 emergency services and can help you with any plumbing issue. Please contact us and we can get there right away.