Oh the weather outside is….weather! Michigan winters are known for lake effect snow and icy temperatures. Especially in Southwest Michigan, weather is like a box of chocolates…you just never know what you’re going to get! *Bonus points if you can name all the movie references in this paragraph!
When temperatures get into the teens and 20s, freezing pipes can be a concern. The general rule is that uninsulated pipes begin freezing when temperatures outside drop to 20 degrees or below. When temperatures drop below freezing, water freezes in pipes. When water freezes, it expands and can completely block a pipe to prevent water from flowing. Worse yet, it could cause the pipe to burst!
Typically your cold water supply (rather than the hot water supply from your water heater) will freeze first. Cold water pipes are what you want to pay attention to most. Rarely will your drain pipes freeze and clog unless they are full and it’s very cold.
How can you prevent frozen pipes as the temperatures drop? Here are 3 tips to keep your water running and house dry this winter.
Tip #1 – Keep the Temperature in Your Home Consistent
You may be in the habit of turning the heat down when you’re asleep, not at home, or on vacation to save money on your heating bill. However, when temperatures are at or below freezing, you should set your thermostat to the same temperature day and night. Steady temperatures will help keep your pipes free of ice and prevent a pipe from bursting while you’re asleep or on vacation.
Tip #2 – Check Pipes Running Through Exterior Walls
Check the insulation of pipes on exterior walls of your home – like in your home’s crawl spaces, attic, and garage – as they are most susceptible to freezing. Keep garage doors closed if there are water pipes or supply lines in the garage to maintain heat as much as possible. If your garage is attached to your home, consider opening your interior door to the garage to allow home heat to enter the garage. We also recommend opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall.
Tip #3 – Leave Your Faucet Dripping Slightly
While this can seem like a waste of water that raises your water bill, it’s a small price to pay to protect yourself from a disastrous flooded basement. If your pipes do freeze, you’ll know when you turn on the water and nothing comes out. If this happens, deal with it immediately because if any more water freezes, it will need a place to expand, and that could mean a burst pipe.
What Happens If My Pipes Are Frozen?
If you discover your pipes are frozen, it’s time for emergency action! Grab a hair dryer, turn on your faucet and make sure the drain is clear. Aim the hair dryer near the pipe, starting from the part of the pipe closest to a faucet, and run it slowly along the length of the pipe back to the source. If that doesn’t unfreeze your pipe, take advantage of Boss Service’s 24/7 emergency plumbing service!
Hopefully frozen pipes never happen to you. But you can’t be too careful, so make sure you follow these tips so you don’t have to deal with the expense and hassle of water damage! To quote Bourne Ultimatum (we love a good Jason Bourne movie), “Hope for the best, plan for the worst!”