On average, one quarter of a million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter, all because of water pipes that freeze and burst. Being prepared and informed will help you, and your customers, avoid the inconvenient and costly issue of frozen pipes. Always contact your local Paul Davis office if you’ve experience water damage due to freezing pipes. With offices in South Central, Southeast & Fox Valley Wisconsin, we’re more than prepared to handle any size property loss.
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. (Basement, crawlspace, attic and garage). These exposed pipes are most vulnerable to freezing, especially if there are cracks or openings that allow cold, outside air to flow across the pipes.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes.
When The Temperature Drops, Take Preventative Action
- Letting the water drip from the faucet, even at a trickle, during extreme cold weather can help prevent a pipe from bursting.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around the un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.
What If Your Pipes Freeze?
- If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.)
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe closest to the faucet and work toward the coldest section using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), a heat lamp, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use any open flame devices.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area or you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas with standing water.
An Industrial Steamer melts ice with high pressured water reaching temperatures over 350°
How To Prevent Ice Dams
Ice dams provoke big property owner headaches for a few important reasons. First, ice and snow melt at 35 degrees F and freeze again at 32 degrees F. Cycling over this small range may occur many times in a single day, creating ice dams in short order. Second, roofs aren’t designed to repel standing water but instead to shed flowing water. Third, well-designed attics are intentionally kept very cold. Most, however, are much warmer than the outside air because so much heat leaks from the structure upward into the attic.
“Combatting ice dams demands a multifaceted approach,” advises Leslie Anderson, Vice President of Training for Paul Davis. “You have to minimize attic heat gain, maximize attic ventilation, evaluate roof vulnerabilities, perform regular maintenance and, of course, get skilled help when needed.” Anderson notes that seven measures help meet these goals:
- Survey your attic to list all openings, no matter how small, that feed heat from living areas into the space: chimneys, plumbing pipes, electrical conduits, fan outlets, junction boxes. Insulate or caulk these openings.
- Improve the attic entrances. Without proper gasketing, entrances are the biggest offenders that channel heat into attics.
- Increase insulation. Attics should ideally have at least a foot of insulation between living spaces and attic interiors.
- Inspect ventilation outlets. Heat that enters the attic – and some is inevitable – needs an easy escape route. Ensure that roof vents are sufficient and unblocked.
- If possible and safe, remove heavy snowfrom roofs regularly. Snow insulates the attic and boosts attic temperature.
- Consider a heat cable system. These inexpensive electric cables warm the eaves just enough to prevent ice formation.
- Call a professional. If you suspect ice dams have been or will be a problem for your structure, retain a professional to address the problem. Once you see visible damage indoors, damage behind walls and ceiling may be extensive.
With proper measures, ice dams can be prevented. Winter water damage occurred despite best efforts? Paul Davis pros are just a phone call away.