While burst water pipes aren’t extremely common, it does happen on occasion and it’s definitely something you want to do your best to avoid. Now that the winter weather has arrived, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you won’t have to deal with the mess and expense of a burst water pipe.
Pipes burst because the water inside them freezes and expands. This is most likely to occur in pipes that are particularly vulnerable to cold weather, like those near outside walls and in crawl spaces, attics and in the garage. It can happen with both copper and plastic materials. If a pipe freezes and bursts, water will begin rushing into your home, potentially causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prevent this disaster in your home. Pipes in vulnerable places should be protected with insulation or heat. You can buy foam or fiberglass pipe insulation at your local hardware store to wrap around the pipes. For areas that you are particularly concerned about, pipe heat cables or tape can keep water flowing even in temperatures as low as -40 degrees.
Other ways to prevent a burst pipe:
• If you haven’t already done so, unscrew your outdoor hose; turn off the outdoor water supply and drain.
• Keep your garage door closed at all times.
• Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to let warm air circulate.
• Don’t turn your heat down too low if you’re leaving for a vacation. You shouldn’t drop the thermostat below 55 degrees F (12 degrees Celsius).
If you suspect your pipes are frozen, turn on a basement tap to cold. Apply heat to the suspected frozen area of the pipe using hot, wet rags, a blow dryer or an electric heating pad. Never use an open flame.
Make sure you are aware of the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve. If a pipe does burst, you will need to shut off the water supply immediately and contact a plumber. Do your best to clean up any water quickly to prevent mold and mildew damage.