Every year, every winter, thousands of Chicago-area homes and businesses fall victim to the same disaster: frozen pipes bursting, sending water flooding through the building. This causes a ton of property damage, and can ruin your holiday season. Preventing frozen pipes needs to be your top priority this winter.
In this blog, we’ll run through the best ways to prevent your pipes from freezing, both before winter and during it. To schedule a furnace tune-up or plumbing services with King, contact us online.
Preventing frozen pipes
Pipes freeze when the water within them is exposed to consistent, freezing temperatures for a sustained period of time. The most common cause of frozen pipes is your furnace breaking down in the middle of the night, causing the temperatures in your home to plummet.
Our first recommendation? Schedule a furnace tune-up in the fall with King.
With that out of the way, here are some other tips for protecting your pipes from the deep freeze.
Preventing frozen pipes before winter starts
- Insulate your home properly by insulating unprotected pipes. Try not to leave any gaps during the process. If it’s unavoidable, use pipe sleeves. Seal the joints and the slits with tape if you have to.
- Check your basement, attic, and crawlspaces for cracks or air leaks, and seal any you find. (This will also help make your home more energy-efficient!)
- Have a contractor install heat cables that can be controlled with a thermostat. Follow the instructions given in the manual to ensure you install the ones meant for your pipes correctly. At the end of the season, unplug the cables to preserve energy.
- Replace single-pane windows with storm windows or ones that are more energy-efficient.
- Contact the team at King for a FREE plumbing inspection to examine your plumbing beforehand. We’ll tell you what can be done to ensure your pipes do not freeze during the chilly weather.
Preventing frozen pipes
Preventing frozen pipes before winter
On average, Chicago winters have highs just above freezing. Any time the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a risk that your water pipes can freeze. Frozen pipes can crack and leak, which is why preventing frozen pipes is so important.
To avoid the need for emergency plumbing repair this winter, call King. We offer free plumbing inspections here in Oak Forest, Orland Park, Joliet, and other parts of Chicagoland. Our experienced plumbers are ready to help you with your plumbing needs, and to help you assess your risk for frozen pipes this winter.
Ensure you have sufficient heat
Before winter hits, you want to make sure your home is ready for the cold months ahead. A furnace tune-up in the fall is one part of frozen pipe prevention. This service ensures your home has enough heat to protect you interior pipes and prevent freezing.
Know your high-risk areas
Exposed pipes, such as those in a basement or home exterior, are at the highest risk for freezing. However, an easy fix is to look into is insulation. Pipes in a basement, crawlspace or attic can be wrapped in foam, while external faucets can be protected with faucet covers.
Let warm air circulate and keep cold air out
Keep your garage door shut to prevent cold air from seeping in. You also want to use the warm air inside your home to protect interior pipes, such as those under a kitchen countertop. Open the cabinet doors as often as possible to allow for air circulation that helps in avoiding frozen pipes.
Drain faucets for reduced risk
You won’t be watering your lawn when the temperature is below freezing, so turning off the flow of water to your exterior faucets should pose no issue. Most switches are located in a basement or similar area. Once the water’s off, open your faucet all the way to let water drain out.
Know who your local plumber is
In the event some of your pipes freeze, you need a plan of action. A licensed plumber from King Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can assess the damage and determine what sort of repairs you might need. We are also available to help with your winter prep with a whole-house heating tune-up.
Preventing frozen pipes during a cold Chicago winter takes knowledge and proper planning. With our help, you can avoid common pitfalls during winter and protect your home from water damage. To learn more about our plumbing services, call us today.
Preventing frozen pipes during the winter
When the coldest nights of the year arrive and the blizzard hovers over Chicago, follow these tips to further protect your home’s pipes:
- Cut off the water supply to faucets and plumbing outside your home by closing the valves.
- Make sure your garage doors are closed at all times to protect the pipes located there from the cold.
- Keep your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open sometimes to allow warm air to circulate inside. The warmth will help keep the pipes from freezing over.
- Allow pipes that are susceptible to the cold drip a little. This includes both hot and cold water pipes. This subtle water movement—even at the pace of a drip—makes it harder for the water to freeze.
Here are some more tips from The Chicago Tribune on how to avoid frozen pipes.
Here are long-term solutions for protecting your pipes
These probably aren’t things you’ll be able to do in the middle of a blizzard, and they’re above-and-beyond the DIY tips shared above. But, they’re a good idea for the Chicago homeowner who is interested in protecting their pipes, above all else.
Install fiberglass insulation
Installing fiberglass insulation is one of the best ways to ensure those pipes remain warm during the winter. Professional plumbers know how to install these without damaging your property. This includes examining the insulation requirements in your home’s crawl spaces, attic, basement, and other places that are hard to reach.
With this process, pipes that do not have adequate insulation will be insulated to keep them from freezing over once the cold weather hits.
Here’s how to deal with frozen pipes in your home this winter
Frozen pipes are the fear of every Chicago homeowner. All it takes is one cold night, one problem with your furnace, and you’re suddenly dealing with pipes filled with ice. In this blog, we’ll discuss what frozen pipes are, how to deal with frozen pipes this winter, and what not to do when your pipes freeze.
For fast, reliable plumbing services here in Chicagoland, call your friends at King Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. We offer 24/7 emergency frozen pipe repair services here in Oak Lawn, Frankfort, and Joliet, IL.
Why are frozen pipes such a problem?
As water freezes, it also expands. You may see this phenomenon when you make ice in a freezer ice tray: even when you fill the water up to the fill line, the resulting ice cubes often freeze over the top of that line.
In that scenario, the water has room to expand into as it freezes. However, in the case of your home’s pipes, there is no where for the ice to go. As the molecules expand, they push against the metal or ceramic sides of the pipe, exerting tremendous pressure on the interior walls.
Best case, the pipe walls hold, and there’s no long-term damage to your pipes. Worst case, they don’t, and you suddenly have water flooding into your home.
How to deal with frozen pipes this winter
Call us. Seriously: if you suspect your pipes have frozen, you need to call a licensed, professional plumber immediately. Doing so increases the chances that we can safely thaw out your pipes without long-term structural damage.
After you’ve called, shut off all the water to your home using the main water shut-off valve. There’ll still be some residual water in your home’s pipes, but this will at least limit the amount that can come out of a cracked pipe.
Here’s what not to do
Never try to thaw your home’s frozen pipes yourself! There’s a lot of “home remedies” out there on the Internet, from using a hair dryer to an electric blanket. At best, they just don’t work. At worst, they can actually increase the stress on your pipes, leading to a burst and other problems down the road. Or, they can present a danger to yourself and your family. Take that hair dryer, for instance. You’re using an electric appliance in a position where, if something went wrong, there could be water everywhere.
A professional plumber can help inspect the plumbing system prior to beginning the thawing, which helps identify if freeing the ice in one spot is going to cause a torrent in another damaged spot.
Call King for plumbing repair and more advice on avoiding frozen pipes
As a company that provides both heating and plumbing services to the Chicago metro, King knows a thing or two about preventing frozen pipes. After all, we’ve been serving you for more than 45 years!
To schedule your furnace tune-up, your free plumbing inspection, or just talk through the state of your home’s pipes, contact us online.