Photo Courtesy: John Bracken
Nobody wants a frozen pipe in their house – the damage it can cause is catastrophic. Leaks, stained walls, soaked carpets, ruined fixtures and fittings are just some of the things that can happen. When the weather gets cold, your pipes are at risk of freezing. As we all know, water expands as it freezes, and this means that the plastic pipe splits.
Running water isn’t usually a problem – things only really go wrong if you go away and there is water at a standstill in the pipe. When you’re in the house, the best thing to do is to keep everything moving by leaving the heating on and running water through the system regularly.
Which Types of Pipes Are Affected?
Whether your pipes are made from polymer plastic, copper or any other metal, they are at risk of freezing over if a lot of water is left in the system. Even pipes that are properly lagged are not completely safe, although insulating your pipes is definitely a good move as it will take longer for the water to freeze. This gives you more time to do something about it!
What Do I Do if My Pipes Are Frozen?
First things first – turn the water off. This means finding the stop-cock and turning all water to the house off immediately. Then, hopefully as the weather warms up, the water will thaw and start running properly again. If you’re unlucky, the pipe will already be split, in which case you need to call an emergency plumber straight away. Don’t try to thaw the pipes yourself – many people have tried but it almost always leads to disaster! So put any big ideas you have (particularly involving fire or blow torches!) to one side and leave it to the experts.
How Do I Prevent it From Happening Again?
You’ll need to get a plumber out to appraise your system, and add lagging as and where they can. Don’t go for the first plumber you find – try and get a few recommendations from your friends; compare their quotes and how they plan to go about the work.
A Word of Warning
One risk you probably won’t have taken into account is that burglars have jumped on the frozen pipe band wagon! They knock on vulnerable people’s doors, saying that they are from a water supplier and asking if they can check your pipes for signs of deterioration – and also offer to check whether they are at risk from frozen pipes.
Of course, once they are in the house, one distracts the resident while the other one helps themselves to the family heirlooms. They never miss a trick – but you can stay one step ahead by never allowing anybody into the house that doesn’t have proper ID – and phone the company they claim to be from before letting them in.
Stay one step ahead by making sure you take every precaution when maintaining your water pipe system. If you’re off on holiday, always drain the system before you leave, or you’ll be sorry!
David Whittman is a freelance blogger. He has a lot of knowledge about polymers and works at ExcelPlas, a polymer testing company. His blogs usually deal with the issues people face in their houses and have been appreciated by many.