Pennsylvania homeowners are familiar with cold winters and the complications with which they are associated regarding home maintenance. Frozen pipes are a concern of many property owners and in certain cases, despite the fact that preventative measures were taken, emergency plumbing services become necessary. If this is the case, it is never wise to procrastinate. Instead, the homeowner should seek a qualified contractor to remedy the problem. Fortunately, there are ways to safeguard pipes from windy conditions and frigid temperatures prior to the beginning of winter.
An easy way to prevent frozen pipes this winter is to ensure that insulation is placed in the appropriate areas, such as where pipes pass through crawlspaces and under kitchen sinks or bathroom vanities. Making sure that all pipes are located in heated spaces or properly insulated will prevent them from freezing when temperatures plummet during the heart of winter. Those who are in doubt about whether or not their pipes are adequately insulated should have them evaluated by a professional contractor who can make recommendations if the insulation is substandard.
Outdoor Faucets and Garden Hoses
It is important to turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets and drain garden hoses when the weather turns cold. Any water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures for even a short length of time are at risk of bursting. If the latter occurs, it cannot be remedied without the help of a professional, which usually ends up costing the homeowner a significant amount of money.
One problem that is often overlooked by homeowners is soil expansion. When winter first sets in, temperatures can be somewhat erratic. For instance, if the outside temperature drops from the 40s to the 20s and then surges back up, soil can expand and contract in a sudden fashion, which ultimately puts considerable pressure on pipes that are buried within the ground. Without evaluation by a professional, a person may find it difficult to determine if there is a problem within the home or if soil expansion has created a problem outdoors. Therefore, having a contractor complete a full maintenance inspection prior to the arrival of winter is the only foolproof way to make sure problems are discovered and dealt with before they become major repairs.
Keeping all piping networks warm will reduce the likelihood of frozen or burst pipes and the expensive repairs that typically follow. For this reason, even if the residents of the home are not in the dwelling, the house should be maintained at a temperature of at least 55°F. Pipes should always be drained if the homeowners plan to leave for an extended amount of time.
Leaving doors under kitchen sinks and bathroom vanities open during frigid weather is a good way to keep pipes warm enough to prevent freezing. During particularly cold temperatures, space heaters can be used to prevent such an occurrence. However, to avoid major complications such as a fire, it is essential to never leave such heaters unattended or place them in areas where they may cause someone to fall.
Other simple measures that can be taken to minimize cold air flow around pipes include keeping garage doors closed during winter. This is particularly important if water supply lines run through the garage.
The Danger of Procrastinating
If pipes burst and water is allowed to seep into a part of the house where electrical wires are located, disastrous results could follow, such as a house fire. Similarly, if pipes that have frozen are not dealt with at once they will almost certainly crack, thus turning a minor inconvenience into a major and expensive repair.
The best time to choose a qualified plumbing company is before an emergency occurs. Otherwise, the homeowner may be tempted to select a contractor in haste and subsequently fail to acquire the best price for any necessary work. It is also important for consumers to determine in advance what types of repairs are covered by their homeowner’s insurance and which may result in out-of-pocket expenses. Homeowners should also consider installing an alarm that detects abnormal moisture levels in the dwelling. Such devices are relatively simple to use and in most cases, they are reasonably priced. In addition, it is wise to purchase a temporary patch kit, as such products provide a way for homeowners to temporarily fix burst pipes until an experienced plumber can be reached. Such kits are readily available at most hardware or home improvement stores. Ultimately, implementing proper plumbing maintenance is the best way for consumers to avoid frozen pipes, extensive repairs and unnecessary expense.