If you’re new to the Midwest, we’re here to tell you that, yes, frozen pipes are definitely a thing out here. The good news is that this winter mishap is completely preventable, and we’ll explain how below. But first…
Here’s the Real Reason Why Pipes Burst During a Cold Snap
First, we need to debunk the biggest myth. It’s true that when water converts to ice, it expands. However, a pipe typically does not burst at the location where the ice expands.
Here is what actually happens when water freezes in your pipes.
- Water molecules take on a hexagonal shape as they freeze. This shape takes up more room than the molecules in liquid form and causes water to “expand” as it freezes.
- The water continues to freeze and expand. This pushes the remaining liquid water toward the nearest tap, which will most likely be turned off (closed) at the time.
- With ice pushing from one end and the tap closed at the other, suddenly there’s a lot of water pressure trapped in the middle. If the pressure gets high enough, the pipe will burst. Typically, this will happen in a spot with little or no ice at all.
Now that you know some of the science behind frozen pipes, here are some steps you can take to prevent this problem.
How to Prevent Your Pipes from Bursting
First, keep an eye on the weather forecast for both day and night so that you don’t get caught unprepared. Technically, your pipes can freeze if temperatures immediately around them drop below freezing, but many Ohio homes are built in such a way as to keep pipes insulated. Once the weather outside approaches 20 degrees Fahrenheit and below, it’s a good idea to take some preventive measures to protect any pipes in your home at risk of freezing.
- Let your heater come on every so often, even if you won’t be at home.
- Keep the cabinet doors open under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to let warm air from your heater into those areas.
- Turn your faucets on so that just a trickle of water is coming out. This will help relieve the pressure if water starts freezing in your pipes.
- Insulate pipes in areas that lack insulation, like exterior spaces, attics, crawl spaces, and garages.
- If you’ll be out of town for a while, let all the water drain out of your pipes before leaving. Shut off your main water supply and then run your faucets until there’s no water left in your supply system.
Emergency Plumbing Repair in Columbus, OH
If a pipe has burst in your home, don’t hesitate to contact The Rooter Works Plumbing and Drains for a same-day plumbing repair in Columbus: (614) 412-3324.