As the leaves turn deep shades of orange, red, and brown, the weather is noticeably cooler and pumpkins seem to be adorning the doorsteps of homes all around town. As Kansas City plumbers, the cooling temperatures and fall colors get us thinking about frozen pipes and what homeowners should start doing to prevent them.
If you don’t have one already, you should pick up a temporary patch kit from a local home center to seal off any burst pipes as you wait for a plumber to make a permanent repair. You should also know where the water shutoff valve is located in case a pipe does freeze and break. Beyond having a patch kit on hand, the real key is prevention.
Here are some ways to prevent frozen pipes:
- If your home is older and has an uninsulated crawl space, you don’t have time to worry about the heating bill. If you turn up your thermostat, it will increase the temperature in the crawlspace, which will, in turn, project heat throughout the floor and crawlspace and help warm up the pipes.
- If your crawlspace is uninsulated, we recommend insulating and air sealing the area.
- Head on down to the nearest Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up some unfaced fiberglass insulation. While you’re at it, pick up a dust mask, a pair of coveralls, and a package of utility knife blades. After putting on the protective wear, determine what parts of the attic, crawl spaces and other places need insulation for unprotected pipes. Neatness isn’t as important as putting the insulation where it needs to be.
- If you have a large area to protect, you can help keep the heat in by using foam board to insulate the large area. Luckily, foam board is easy to cut; all you have to do is mark the surface with a Sharpie pen or a carpenter’s pencil and cut it with a utility knife, then snap it along the line. We recommend holding it to wood framing with coarse-thread drywall screws ranging from 1-1/4 into 1-5/8 in.
- You can install a heat trace cable, which can prevent the cold pipe from freezing. If you can’t find one at the local home center, you can check out an electrical supply company.
- A temporary, inexpensive method to stop a pipe from freezing is to place an electrical space heater near unprotected pipes. Remember, the goal is to keep the water in the pipes from freezing, not to keep the room toasty and warm.
- If you’re going to head out for a few days or longer, you can turn off the main water supply valve. You can also do this at night while you sleep. If the pipe does freeze and break, the spillage will only affect the water left in the pipe overnight.
If you have plumbing that runs to your kitchen sink on an exterior wall, those pipes will be more vulnerable to freezing because they are not insulated. What you can do is open the kitchen cabinet doors and place an electric heater in front of them to prevent those uninsulated pipes from freezing.
We hope this information helps. If you need help winterizing your plumbing, don’t hesitate to contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service call!