How To Keep Pipes From Freezing in a Vacant House
During the chillier winter weather, many homeowners and landlords dread the effects that come with colder climates. A frozen water line not only means an inability to access water, but also a colossal mess that can initiate the formation of mold and mildew, flooding and architectural damage.
While the fear of frozen pipes is troublesome enough, what is even more worrisome is leaving your house unattended during these temperature drops. Water is a necessity in every house, but it can cause serious issues when it expands and freezes. When freezing occurs for long periods of time, your pipes begin to experience immense pressure and may crack, fracture or break entirely.
But don’t let this fear of household disasters keep you from your holiday travels during the winter days. With a little preparation and added caution, you can keep your house safe — and thawed! — even when you’re not at home.
What Temperature causes Pipes to Burst?
If the temperature outside isn’t below zero, many wrongly assume that their pipes should function properly. What temperature do pipes burst at exactly? Generally speaking, the majority of pipe-bursting episodes occur at 20° F and below. Even if your house doesn’t feel too cold inside or outside, it’s ideal to safeguard your pipes to prevent potential breaking.
Keep the Heat on - Even When Nobody is Home
While it may seem odd and impractical to keep a house heated when there are no tenants inside, it’s one of the easier precautionary measures to take to avoid freezing pipes. Whether you’re expecting Chicago’s harsh winter weather or you live in a milder winter climate, frozen pipes can occur in any region.
Prevent pipe bursts in the winter by setting the thermostat to a warmer temperature that will inhibit any freezing. The ideal temperature for your house while you’re on winter vacation doesn’t have to be excessive, but it should be above 55°F throughout the day and night.
Cover up Door Frames and Window Cracks
During the frosty winter season, you want to keep strong gusts of chilly air outside to ensure the inside of your house stays cozy and warm. Keeping the heat on while you’re away may be counterintuitive if your house has open spots where the outside air seeps in.
Carefully examine door frames, windows, corners, edges, and drywall for any holes, cracks or overall structural damage. If you notice any openings, buy a tube of caulk at your local hardware store to seal up any weak spots in your home’s interior that would allow cold air to leak in.
How to Protect your Water Pipes
Heating tape is one accessory that can be added directly to your pipes to prevent freezing. Another option is to use a “pipe sleeve” or cable to provide additional insulation on your pipes to ensure the water flowing through them remains liquid, not solid.
How to Fix Broken or Frozen Pipes
Forget to take those precautionary measures before you left, and now you have no water flow? Don’t worry — your pipes may be frozen, but that doesn’t mean they are broken. Turn the hot water faucets on and leave them, even if nothing comes out right away.
Your next course of action is unfreezing your pipes. Use a hairdryer, heating pad or hot compress to thaw the area that is affected. Avoid using any kind of flame, such as blow torches or matches, to thaw your pipes, as this could initiate a fire.
If your pipes are broken or you find yourself unable to resolve the issue on your own, get in touch with a professional immediately.
Fortunately, with a little preparation, most instances of frozen and burst pipes can be prevented.
Contact a ServiceMaster representative or give us a call to help safeguard your home against Chicago’s winter weather & fix any water damage that may have been caused by a burst pipe.