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Winter can be a beautiful season. With freshly fallen snow and crisp, cold temperatures, the world can be transformed into a sparkling wonderland. However, winter also causes serious problems for many homeowners and consumers. Winter weather brings with it subfreezing temperatures which can make roads and driveways very dangerous to navigate. Freezing cold temperatures can turn water into a destructive force. When water freezes, it expands rapidly, and any water that is in a small space or a crevice can expand and break whatever is surrounding it. When you see cracks in sidewalks or driveways, this can usually be attributed to water that has seeped into the concrete and then frozen. Water that freezes in a gutter system can break the gutter and cause thousands of dollars in damage. Water can also seep into a roofing system and freeze, causing damage. One of the most devastating winter effects, however, is frozen water pipes.
When the water in your pipes freezes, it can cause serious damage to your entire water system. Consumers may have to deal with leaking pipes or pipes that have completely burst, spewing water everywhere and causing flood damage. Water pipes that are frozen will also be incapable of delivering fresh water to a house. A house with no water access is a huge inconvenience to homeowners. Repairing frozen pipes can be extremely expensive and time consuming. Hiring a professional to repair frozen water pipes is often the only option.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Because frozen water pipes are difficult to thaw without rupturing the pipe, the best way to deal with pipes is to prevent them from freezing. You can do this by removing hoses from outside water faucets, shutting the faucets off and then turning off the water supply to the outside of your house. If you have pipes that are exposed to the winter elements, you can install insulating foam or electrical heating tape on those pipes to prevent freezing. A professional can tell you which of your pipes have a freezing risk potential and can help you take preventative measures to avoid frozen pipes.
Thawing Pipes that are Frozen but not Ruptured
If you have a frozen pipe that has not yet burst, you need to thaw it immediately. You can identify when a pipe is frozen if you turn on a faucet in the winter and no water comes out or only a small trickle of water comes out. Usually a frozen pipe will have frost on the outside or will feel unusually cold. The first thing to do when you encounter a frozen pipe is to feel for fissures in the pipe. If the pipe is bubbled up and cracked, thawing the pipe will only cause water to leak out. If the pipe is not ruptured, you can start by turning up the heat in your house.
If, after a few minutes, this does not melt the blockage, many consumers turn to their electric hair dryers. A hair dryer is actually one of the best ways to thaw a frozen pipe. You can also use portable heaters or electric tape, but you should never use an open flame to thaw pipes. Consumers who use open flames to thaw pipes cause a large percentage of winter house fires.
If your frozen pipes are embedded in your walls or if your pipes have burst, you need to hire a professional to take care of the problem before it becomes more serious. A professional can get access to pipes in walls and can replace broken pipes before they cause severe water damage to your house.