While most of North Carolina experiences relatively mild winters, the highlands are clear exceptions. The higher elevations in the Asheville region translate into many a bitterly cold winter day. It’s no coincidence that the higher reaches of the mountains here feature trees and plants that normally grow in subarctic zones.
The very same conditions that can produce a winter wonderland of snow-draped evergreens and frozen waterfalls can also pose some severe threats to homes. One of the chief among them is frozen and burst pipes. That’s a problem no homeowner wants to discover, yet it’s a reality during the western North Carolina winter.
Although you can’t change the fact of severe cold during our winters, there are steps you can take to keep lines from freezing and to thaw pipes that do freeze.
The Results of Frozen Pipes
If you’ve never experienced a frozen or burst pipe before, you might not be familiar with how serious a problem this can be.
As water freezes, it expands, and when it freezes inside pipes, it creates pressure that may overwhelm them and cause cracking or bursting. Outside pipes such as spigots, water sprinkler lines, and swimming pool supply lines are the most susceptible to freezing and bursting, but inside lines can also be at risk during times of extreme cold, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a power outage or heating system breakdown at the same time,
When exterior pipes burst, there often isn’t much risk of structural damage, and the solution is usually to cut off the water supply and call for a repair. Inside, however, there can be a great deal of damage as thawed water sprays or leaks, potentially causing water damage and mold and mildew growth that can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Ways To Prevent Pipes from Freezing
So let’s look at some ways to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place.
- Perform Preventative Maintenance: Every year, you should have your plumbing and heating systems professionally cleaned and serviced. This will help keep them running smoothly and create an opportunity to find and correct small problems before they become big problems at a bad time.
- Drain Outdoor Water Lines Each Year: In late fall, drain exterior water lines so that they can’t freeze. Also, disconnect and drain hoses on close the valves on outdoor spigots.
- Locate Your Shutoff Valves: Knowing where shutoff valves give you the option of shutting off water flow to vulnerable areas ahead of freezing weather. It’s also critical to know where these are so you can quickly shut the water off if a pipe does burst.
- Insulate Vulnerable Pipes and Areas: Use rubber or fiberglass to insulate pipes in colder areas such as basements, garages, crawl spaces, and unheated exterior walls. Make sure rooms are properly insulated and seal any gaps around windows causing drafts.
- Turn Faucets On Ahead of and During Freezing Periods: As freezing weather is bearing down and once it’s arrived, you can turn faucets on to a trickle or a drip. Moving water takes more time to freeze, and this measure can be especially helpful if there’s a faucet in a colder area of the house or if you’ve lost power. Sure, this might result in a very small increase in your water bill, but it’s a lot cheaper than the repairs for a burst pipe. If power outages are a concern, you can collect that dripping/trickling water for cooking, washing, or drinking.
- Open Sink Cabinet Doors: This lets the warm air inside your home reach the pipes beneath the sinks, making it harder for them to freeze.
- Keep the House Warmer: You can also set your thermostat to a higher temperature to keep the home and its pipes a bit warmer. Sure, this step, like having faucets trickle, might raise your energy bills, but it’s again a lot better than dealing with the mess and expense of a burst pipe.
- Use Helpful Technology: A hot water circulating pump can monitor the water temperature in a system and circulate warm water through the lines when it detects a certain temperature. You can also install a freeze alarm that can send an alert to your phone when temperatures are dropping toward freezing, giving you time to prepare.
My Pipes Are Frozen. How Can I Thaw Them?
Despite your preventative efforts, you still might end up with a frozen pipe, usually most noticeable when you turn a faucet on and no water comes out. There are 3 steps you can take: location, opening, and warming.
- Location: If you’re concerned about frozen pipes, go around the house and turn faucets on. Any that release just a trickle of water or none at all are signs of a frozen pipe.
- Opening: If a trickle of water is coming out, keep that faucet open. The moving water will help the thawing while you take steps to warm the pipes. An exception to this is when you know a pipe has burst, in which case you need to cut off the water flow immediately.
- Warming: Now, it’s time to apply heat to frozen sections of pipe. You can wrap frozen sections with electrical heating pads, position a space heater in a safe location close by, blanket the pipes in towels soaked in hot water (repeat when the towels cool), and even use a hair dryer at its hottest setting. Do not use open flames!
Professional Service for Frozen Pipes and Water Lines
For frozen water line repair or dealing with frozen pipes in Asheville, NC, and the surrounding region, it’s best to leave the job to a qualified expert like Four Seasons Plumbing. We’re fully certified and insured, and our knowledgeable, courteous technicians have the tools and training to get the job done right and have things back to normal as soon as possible. Because we know that plumbing emergencies sometimes occur at the worst possible times, we also offer emergency plumbing services for those times that it can’t wait, and a burst pipe is usually one of those times.
If you need an estimate or want to schedule a service, call us today or use our easy online request form!