What To Do When Your Pipes Freeze?
If you think winter is not a concern in Arizona, think again.
The days will get colder and temperatures can and do reach freezing in certain areas. Phoenix is known to experience temperatures reaching below the 40s which, for an Arizona native, is far from the ideal. To ensure that you stay warm this winter, you will need an effective heating system, but you will also need to protect your pipes from freezing.
Exposed pipes are vulnerable to the cold and can freeze for a number of reasons. Although repair is available from the expert technicians at Mason Mechanical, prevention is always the option we recommend to customers to save money on both repairs and energy costs. Before you think about what to do when your pipes freeze, follow these recommendations for preventing issues arising in the first place.
Exposed pipes are prime targets for freezing temperatures. To help prevent pipes from freezing, it is important to inspect your plumbing system both inside and outside of your home for exposed pipes. Any pipes that carry water are at risk. That includes your valves, bibs and any outdoor faucets.
To provide your pipes with an extra layer of protection from the cold, you can use foam or wrap insulation. Don’t neglect pipes that are already insulated. They may need to be replaced due to damage or wear and tear. In a pinch, materials such as towels, newspaper and anything else that will keep pipes warm is preferable to leaving them exposed to the elements.
You should also check for pipes that are exposed where they feed into your home. Cold air can seep into these spaces and cause pipes to freeze up quickly. Seal any areas that will potentially compromise your pipes in winter.
If you plan on using your hoses following the winter season, you better not leave them outside. A hose will freeze with water inside and could actually damage the equipment if ice expands inside the hose. To err on the side of caution, it is best to bring any hoses inside and store them away until you need them again. Make sure hoses are drained, otherwise you could end up with a mini-flood inside your home. If the weather is frigid, allow cold water faucets to drip.
Irrigations systems need special attention during the winter. If you have the operating manual, it should contain instructions on how to winterize the irrigation system to prevent freezing. Check for the main shut-off valve and make sure that it is insulated. Now all irrigation systems have this feature so, again, check the manual for the setup.
All piping that is above ground will need insulation to protect it from the air, which is at its coldest closer to the ground. There is a lot of merit to shutting down automatic irrigation systems to cut off the water supply to pipes. Additionally, you will need to drain the system if you opt for shutting down during winter.
Backflow Prevention Assembly
You can employ an insulation bag or other types of pipe insulation wrap to protect the backflow prevention assembly. If it doesn’t get too cold, you can use towels as a temporary fix for protecting your assembly. This is especially important at night when the temperature drops to its lowest point. A leaking backflow assembly is a sign of freezing. Call a qualified tester who can provide repair or replacement services.
If you have done everything you can but winter wins out, don’t panic. There are options to resolve the issue quickly. It is more than likely that the freeze is located in pipes that are exposed. When you locate the frozen pipe, use a hair dryer or other device that blows warm air, such as a vacuum canister, to slowly warm up the pipe. Use a back-and-forth motion to help the water thaw. While you are warming the pipe, it is important to have a faucet running inside the home to prevent water slugs traveling through the pipes.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want the pipe to heat up quickly, otherwise you could end up with a burst pipe. That means do not use hot water and especially do not use torch or flame equipment to heat up a pipe.
If you detect a burst pipe or leaking anywhere in the plumbing system, turn the water supply off at the main immediately. At this stage, the best course of action is to bring in a professional plumber who can carry out repairs and prevent any further damage.
Mason Mechanical can have an expert technician out to your home or business on the same day. Call today for further advice or emergency assistance if you are concerned about frozen pipes.