Maybe not a problem for 99 percent of homes in Australia but for those living in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, frozen pipes in the winter is big concern. Burst pipes and flooding in homes can cost thousands to repair and can sometimes cause irreparable damage, so it really is a problem household could do without. With that in mind, what are some precautions that can be undertaken to prevent pipes freezing?
- Buy insulation
With winter approaching, households should make sure they have insulation for their pipes, especially if they are outside, open to harsh weather conditions. Lagging material can be the difference between a cracked pipe if temperatures are sub-zero. Pipes should also be checked for gaps.
- Check unheated areas
If any pipes are in areas such as garages and lofts, where there is little to no heating in place, check that insulation is properly fitted. These pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Draughts should also be minimised to unheated areas as a further precaution.
- Monitor temperature
Keeping the thermostat set to slightly higher than normal night-time temperature may cause a spike in your heating bills, but it could save you money in the long run. If you are planning to leave your house for more than a few days, the heating should be left on at a low temperature. You should also ask a friend to check in to see that everything is in working order.
- Circulating air
Pipes in cupboards can get very cold so opening the doors can be an effective way to let warm air circulate and stop them from freezing. While keeping the tap dripping, will release any pressure within the pipes.
If these preventative measures don’t work and you suspect a pipe has frozen, immediately turn off the water supply. If a pipe has frozen, warm cloth can be wrapped around it to help it thaw gradually, as well as hot water bottles or even a hairdryer on a low setting.
If the pipe bursts, keep the water supply turned off but turn on all the taps in your house to reduce flooding. Call a plumber and hope the damage to both your bank balance and house are not as bad as you first feared. Carefully following these steps to prevent pipes freezing should keep from having to make this desperate call for help though.