Frozen pipes and frozen water lines; how to prevent frozen pipes, what not to do, and what to do, if you have frozen pipes.

One day when I was going through a mans home replacing sections of pipe that burst because they froze and broke, the man asked me (with one of the broken pipes in his hand), How cold does it have to get to cause this to happen? I answered 31 degrees Fahrenheit. He looked at me like I was crazy, but that is all it takes for a pipe to freeze.

If you live in an area where the temperatures drop below freezing you need to be aware that your pipes could freeze and can break as a result, If you are building a new home or are building an addition or are doing alterations, the most important rules are, NO water lines in any outside walls, no matter what, But this is where the tub faucet has to go? No get a tub that sits in the opposite direction and put the faucet on an inside wall. But what if I want my kitchen sink on the outside wall? No problem have the water pipes come up through the cabinet floor instead of the outside walls, but I have 6” walls and plenty of insulation. Don’t do it, you will be sorry if you do.

No water lines in any attic space, no matter what, find another way. Some want to be plumbers and builders will try to talk you into this but you are the one who will pay when the frozen pipe breaks.

If you live in an older home you may have pipes in outside walls or other vulnerable places so you will have to take some precautions, when it is cold, leave any cabinet doors open so that the heat from the house can get in the cabinet and help protect the pipes. Letting the faucet drip a little helps because moving water cannot freeze.

Most of the large freeze ups, where the whole house plumbing and heating systems have frozen and burst and the toilets have broken, happen when the home owner is away on vacation or spent the weekend away, (this is not to say it takes a week for this much damage to happen, it can happen very fast) Sometimes it is because the heating system has failed, many times it is because the home owner turned the heat down to low thinking, as long as I have the heat above freezing I will be ok, This mistake in thinking has cost home owners thousands of dollars. In most cases it is best to keep the whole house at 55 degrees or higher, in some cases no less then 65 degrees. Keeping just one section of the heat on is a very bad idea, especially with hot water baseboard heat.

But how can a pipe freeze in a house that is 45 degrees when a pipe can’t freeze unless it is 31 degrees or less?

The same insulation barrier that helps hold the heat in will prevent heat from reaching pipes in vulnerable locations, for example, if you have a heat pipe coming up from your basement to a section of baseboard on an outside wall, (this is the case with most baseboard), that pipe can freeze from being so close to outside wall, even though the room temperature is 45 degrees, (I have seen a section of baseboard freeze below a window that was just a single pane when the room was 65 degrees), now once the heat pipe freezes the heat for that zone will no longer work, now you have no heat at all in this section of the house, you may think, well once the hot water from the boiler hits that section of the pipe it will thaw out and be fine, sorry it does not work that way. If the water in the pipe freezes the water will not move in that zone, so the hot water from the boiler cannot get to that section of the pipe. Now once the one section of the zone freezes that section of the house will start to get colder till it gets as cold as it is outside, now everything freezes, all the baseboard, all the waterlines in this section, the toilets, and even the traps. You saved a few dollars on fuel, but you will pay thousands of dollars in damage to your home. In this type of freeze up all the baseboard has to be replaced because it breaks every few feet or inches, all of the pipes in the walls have to be replaced for the same reason, this means walls and ceilings will have to be removed to replace and repair the pipes, your toilets will need to be replaced, your traps will need to be replaced. If you had the extra misfortune to have it get warm again before you got home and the pipes thawed out, you will have extensive water damage to your home, in addition to having to replace the pipes. Most plumbers know that once the cold snap passes, that’s when we are going to be very busy.

What areas of the county are most supsesable to pipes freezing?

Los Angeles Plumbing Contractors Tampa Plumber, Atlanta Plumbers and Austin Plumbers will probably never have to deal with Frozen pipes. But In the north east, New Jersey plumbers, NYC Plumbing contractors, Connecticut Plumbers, Massachusetts plumbers and Rhode Island Plumbers fix frozen pipes all the time.

Information provided by Master

This article is only meant to give you general information on water heaters. Consult with a local plumbing professional to insure you are making the smartest and safest decision.