Wintertime can present a challenge to maintaining working pipes in your home. Freezing temperatures can trigger ice formation inside household water-supply lines that causes a pipe rupture. Frozen pipes can range from a temporary nuisance to a major event inflicting thousands of dollars of water damage to the house and contents if a major supply line ruptures.

Pipe ruptures usually don’t occur at the actual 32-degree temperature that freezes water. As a general rule, outdoor temperatures must drop into the low-20-degree range to trigger potentially damaging ice formation inside water-supply pipes that threaten working pipes. Here in Indianapolis, average low temperatures typically drop into this range from December through February. And, of course, an unusual cold snap may occur anytime during winter months.

Before Freezing Weather Threatens:

  • Insulate exposed pipe segments. Identify water-supply lines that are routed through unheated parts of the house such as the crawl space, basement, or attic. Install foam insulation sleeves on all exposed pipe segments.
  • Seal outdoor openings in exterior walls that could allow frigid air to infiltrate into the wall structure where supply pipes may be routed. 

When Potentially Damaging Temperatures Are Forecast:

  • Open all faucets to permit a slow drip of water. This relieves damaging pressure that may occur inside frozen pipes.
  • Open up closets and cabinets to allow indoor heat to penetrate more deeply into the structure and keep working pipes warm. 
  • Keep the house continuously warm with a consistent thermostat setting day and night during the period of frigid weather.
  • If you are leaving home during a period when a hard freeze could occur in your absence, keep the thermostat set at 55 degrees or higher.

If You Suspect a Frozen Pipe:

  • If water flow stops at a certain faucet or faucets inside the house, assume that a pipe is frozen somewhere and that it may be ruptured. Don’t wait for flooding or other evidence to occur; contact a qualified plumber ASAP.

For more information about maintaining working pipes during cold winter weather, contact the professionals at Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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