avoid frozen pipes - vito services

Important Steps to Take to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing and Bursting in Cold Winter Weather

Not every Maryland, Virginia or D.C.-area home is extremely susceptible to frozen pipes, but enough are that it’s a relatively serious concern for customers in our service area. Newer homes are usually built with insulation and anti-freezing strategies in mind. They tend to lay out pipes in such a way that freezing and bursting is less of a risk, but that doesn’t make burst pipes impossible.

Our low temperatures aren’t usually sustained long enough for pipes in homes to freeze frequently (it usually needs to be 20-degrees Fahrenheit or colder for six hours or more), but every year when we get a particularly cold couple of days, frozen burst pipe calls start coming in.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Don’t assume your pipes are impervious to freezing and bursting. By taking some easy-to-implement steps you can insulate your plumbing and prevent the costly damages or exhausting water damage insurance claims process.

Basic Tips to Prevent Frozen Burst Pipes

  • Remove and drain water hoses
  • Open cabinets containing pipes
  • Allow faucets or outside hose bibs to trickle water
  • Make sure any cracks or slow leaks are patched
  • Keep your garage door closed
  • In extreme cases (or when going out of town) consider shutting off water
  • Don’t let your home get too cold (keep it at 55-degrees Fahrenheit minimum)
  • Use pipe sleeves or heating tape where you can, especially outside on hose bibs

In and around the Alexandria and Rockville area we don’t get, the severe “Shut off the water tonight!” cold snaps, but it does occasionally get cold enough that running a very small drip on outside spigots and faucets overnights may be beneficial.

There are plenty of people who want to save a bit on utilities by not turning their thermostat too high, but it’s likely cheaper in the long run to pay a bit more for a warmer home than deal with the cost of repair and cleanup after a burst pipe.

But the Interior of My Home Is Way Above Freezing

Keep in mind where pipes burst: outside, between drywall and an exterior wall, in cabinets or in the attic. All these places aren’t intentionally heated or insulated. These pipes are exposed to colder temperatures more than you may realize.

It’s not unheard of for water mains in the region to freeze and burst, and your home could face those same risks during particularly cold spells.

Don’t forget about your pipes if you go out of town this winter. If you’re traveling for the holidays you should strongly consider either leaving your home’s thermostat at 55 or turning off the water to your house and leaving faucets open to completely drain your home’s pipes before leaving.

What You Shouldn’t Do to Combat Frozen Pipes

  • Don’t take a blow torch or open flame to a pipe in an effort to thaw it out
  • You probably shouldn’t be using hair dryers or electric heaters to thaw out frozen pipes (electrocution risk is high once the water starts running)

Plumbers can defrost pipes, but it’s a lot easier to just not let your pipes freeze over in the first place.

If a Pipe Does Burst

All you can really do is turn off the water to your home and call a plumber. If you are fast enough you can try opening the faucets in the lowest part of your home to let the water drain instead of having all of it leak out wherever the pipe burst.

You should also contact your insurance company right away (and take pictures of the damage). In a lot of cases your homeowners insurance should cover water damage caused by frozen and burst pipes.

Unfortunately, getting a claim honored is never a guarantee. In some situations, an insurer may try to deny a claim if they believe the homeowner could have avoided the burst pipe through preventative measures (like the steps we listed above).

That’s another reason to get out in front of frozen pipes before they happen. Every claim is different, and one adjuster may not look at a burst pipe incident the same way as another insurance company adjuster would. If you can prove you made an effort to prevent your pipes from freezing but it happened anyways, it’s more likely your claim will get honored.

Get Your Plumbing Checked Before the Freezing Season Arrives

You get your HVAC checked and tuned-up before the heating or cooling season begins, so why wouldn’t you do the same periodically for your plumbing? Vito Services makes it easy to do exactly that with our competitively priced service club membership and plumbing maintenance checks.

Give us a call at 866-792-7154 and we’ll schedule a plumbing check on your home or dispatch a certified plumber to deal with whatever plumbing problems you’re experiencing at this moment (emergency services available 24/7).

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