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Avoiding Damage To Your Pipes In The Cold Winter Months

by Sara Cook

If you live in a colder climate, you might have to worry about the weather affecting your plumbing, especially if you live in a home where the pipes run under the floor in a crawl space. You need to take steps to keep the water in the pipes from freezing and damaging the system. The cost associated with replacing damaged pipes is not cheap and with a little planning, it can be avoided altogether.

Why Are The Pipes Exposed?

In homes that do not have full basements or cellars under them, the pipes are run under the floor in a crawl space so that they can be accessed in the event of damage. In warmer climates, this is not a problem but in an area that sees harsh, cold temperatures in the winter, this can allow the water in those pipes to freeze. Unfortunately, if the home was built with just the crawl space under it, there may not be a better way to run the plumbing so you will have to consider options to protect the pipes that can not be moved.

How Are The Pipes Damaged?

When the temperatures drop, the water sitting in the pipes will start to drop in temperature as well. Since water expands when it freezes, it will cause the pipe to swell and eventually rupture. In some cases, the ice will not expand enough to crack the pipe but the swelling can weaken the walls of the pipe and over time, it will fail, leaving you with a leak or worse, no water.  

How Can You Protect Those Pipes?

There are a number of things that can be done to help protect the pipes under your home. First, close in the area around the home so that the wind can not blow under it. There are typically panels around the house that create the crawl space but often they are not insulated. Installing insulation with a high r factor or insulation rating, will help keep the space warmer. Pipes that are particularly exposed can be wrapped in insulation and a heat tape installed on the pipe. A heat tape is a flexible tape with a heating element embedded in it that when plugged in, warms up and keeps the pipe and water in it warm.

Heating The Crawl Space

If all else fails, you can add heat to the crawl space under your home. If you can blow some warm air from your home into the crawl space, that may be just enough to keep all those pipes warm and protected. If you are not sure which pipes are prone to damage, you can have a plumber or home inspector come look at your home and point out the potential problem areas. In the event that you do have a frozen pipe, a plumber will have to come and replace the section of pipe and inspect the rest of damage. If a little heat can fix the problem completely, it may be worth the added cost to insulate and heat the crawl space a few months a year.

For more information, contact companies like Salinas & Sons Rooter Service.