Everything You Need to Know About Insulating Your Pipes

With the possibility of winter weather still looming before us we thought it was important to talk about insulating your pipes, and what can happen if you don’t. Insulating the water pipes in and around your home is an important step you can take to winterize your home effectively. Frozen pipes are one of the most common plumbing events that people experience during the winter. It can be easy to let these sorts of things slip your mind, but that can be very costly. Today we’ll discuss how you can insulate your pipes, what to expect if you don’t, and ways to thaw your pipes if you didn’t have time to take early precautions. 

How to Prepare Your Pipes for Winter

  • Begin by doing an inspection of your home. Pick up and disconnect outdoor hoses, check indoor faucets and shower heads for leaks, and check pipes for cracks or leaks. 
    • Locate your water main, this will be important if your pipes freeze. You should open and close this at least once a year to be sure that it’s working properly. 
    • You should also unclog drains to keep the pressure from building up.
  • To insulate your pipes you can wrap them in foam padding sleeves or insulating tape. Both of these are fairly low cost and can be found at your local hardware store. 
  • Keep a constant drip on your faucets during the winter. This will allow the water to stay moving through the pipes preventing it from freezing solid. It also allows for an escape of water and steam so that if your pipes freeze they won’t burst. 
  • Keep the heat on and at a constant temperature — it shouldn’t drop below 55℉ this is especially important if your away on vacation.
  • Keep your kitchen cabinets open, this will allow warm air to travel and will keep the pipes connected to your kitchen sink from freezing 

What to Expect if your Pipes Freeze 

What can you expect if your pipes do freeze? Here are a couple of things to take note of so that you can catch the problem early. 

  • Check your home regularly to ensure that pipes in areas such as bathrooms and the kitchen are working properly. You should also check for signs of leakage in the pipes such as damp drywall or cabinets. You can also check exposed pipes for frost, condensation, and other signs that it may be frozen.
  • Check the unheated areas of your home such as unfinished basements, crawl spaces, and garages. The pipes in this area are much more likely to freeze. You can check for leaks, pooled water, and frost/condensation on these pipes as well. 
  • Check your plumbing to be sure it works properly. Turn on cold and hot water in all areas of your home, this will likely alert you to any issues you may be having. 
  • Finally you can inspect the exterior of your home as well. Checking for the same things as mentioned above. 

What to do if my Pipes Froze

Maybe you find you haven’t taken the proper precautions this winter and now you have a frozen pipe. Here’s some ways you can safely try to thaw your pipes while you wait for a professional to come out and help. 

  • Keep the faucets open and let the drip slightly. As mentioned before this will keep the pressure from building up in the pipes and will allow for water to move through the pipes. 
  • To actually thaw the pipe there are a couple of methods you can try. It’s important to note that you should be attentive and careful when using any of these methods. You should avoid using any open flames such as a blow torch, this can be extremely dangerous. 
    • Cover the pipe in an electric heating pad to slowly defrost the pipe. 
    • Use a blow dryer to defrost the pipe
    • Lay warm towel on the pipe to help it thaw out
  • Once the pipe is thawed you should be sure to keep water moving through it to keep it from freezing again. 

If your pipe burst from being frozen be sure that you call a professional immediately. Calling a professional is always the SAFEST and best option. 

If you need more help on what you can do to keep your pipes from freezing this winter check out other blogs on our page or call us! Norfolk Plumbing is happy to help you with all of your plumbing needs. If you have any concern that your pipes are frozen give us a call (757) 466-0644, we offer 24/7 emergency service so that you don’t have to experience any serious issues. 

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