By Joseph Braswell, Owner

During the winter, freezing pipes can become a serious problem, especially if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Whether you’re ready to take action now before winter arrives, or your scouring the internet the night before a freeze, we have all the information you need.

Before we jump into some tips, you’re probably wondering if you should really be worried about your pipes freezing.

While, theoretically, a pipe can freeze if it’s 32 degrees outside, more often than not, your pipes are going to be a little bit warmer than that since they’re either underground or inside the home. Most of the time, you have to be approaching the teens for 48 to 72 hours before it becomes a real big fear. The main exception here is if you have an outside hose that’s attached to your house; that’s going to freeze a little bit easier. At the same time, keep in mind that even if your pipes do freeze, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to burst.

That being said, most would agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you don’t take the appropriate precautions, and your pipes burst, you’re going to have water damage.

This could mean severe damage to your flooring, walls, and ceiling, and cleaning up water damage isn’t cheap. Whether you’re being proactive prepping for the cold weather ahead, or you’ve procrastinated and just found out it’s going to freeze tonight, just follow these tips to avoid having to deal with frozen pipes this winter.

If winter is on the way, and you’re being proactive:

  • Insulate your pipes. Make sure you don’t have any bare pipes showing in your attic, basement, or crawlspace. Vulnerable pipes in these spaces should be fitted with foam or fiberglass insulation sleeves.
  • Wrap heat tape around pipes that are exposed to the elements. Heat tape is just like an extension cord that’s essentially going to let off heat so the pipes won’t freeze. This is especially important for pipes that are in an attic, unfinished basement, or garage.
  • Apply covers to outside faucets. An outside hose connected to the house has the potential to hold water in the faucet that could expand and burst. You can prevent this by using covers from your local hardware store that are only a couple dollars. There’s no installation; you just pop them on there.

If you procrastinated, and it’s going to freeze tonight:

  • Leave the water running a little bit. This isn’t a fix all because even if it’s running a little bit, there’s still the possibility of your pipes freezing, especially if it’s going to be cold for a longer period of time. But if you’re just going to have one night of real low temperatures, you can let a faucet drip for a little while, and that moving water will help prevent them from freezing.
  • Unhook your hoses from the faucets outside. If you don’t have time to go out and buy the covers mentioned above, your best bet to avoid frozen faucets outside is to simply unhook the hose.

If you procrastinated, and you’re going out of town:

  • Keep your heat on. A lot of times, people that are going out of town or have a rental property don’t leave the heat on when they’re not there. But in the winter, you need to have your heat on at a minimum of 50 or 60 degrees. Some of that heat will seep into the basement or crawlspace and keep your pipes a little bit warmer.
  • Turn the water off at the street. This is a good precaution to take, especially if you’ll be gone for an extended period. This way, if the pipes did freeze and burst, you would know that the water wouldn’t just be running.

If you’ve really procrastinated and now have frozen pipes on your hands, the best thing you can do is just wait until they thaw. Other than putting the heat tape on your pipes or getting a hair dryer to thaw them out, there’s really nothing you can do. If the situation takes a turn for the worse, and a pipe bursts, turn the water off at the street or call a plumber to do it for you. If the plumber can’t get there quickly, a lot of your local fire departments will turn the water off at the street for you. Then the next time winter comes around, just be sure to take the appropriate precautions before the cold weather hits.

Contact Guin Service, LLC in Birmingham, AL for AC Repair or Replacement. We’ve been in business for 60 years because we do what’s right for our customers. You can always trust us to be honest and have your best interest in mind. We’re happy to come out and give you a free second opinion if you’ve been told you have to replace your AC. While we may come out and say that’s not a bad idea, we’ll also give you your options, or repair your unit until you’re ready to make the decision. Just give us a call today at 205.595.4846.