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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

Avoid Frozen and Burst Pipes in Winter With These Basic Tricks

Ice cubes

Nobody wants to call for an emergency plumber in Wilmette, IL in the middle of winter because frozen or burst pipes have brought their home to a standstill. Unfortunately, burst pipes are one of the most common plumbing issues to strike homes during our winters, and it often feels to homeowners as if pipe freeze is inevitable—at some point, it’s going to strike your home.

But this isn’t true: pipe freeze leading to burst pipes is something you can avoid if you know the precautions to take. Right now in November is the right time to take them! We’ll go through the basic tricks of stopping pipe freeze and the plumbing emergency it causes.

1. Insulate the pipes you can see

Any exposed piping in your house needs to have insulation around it. There are several ways to do this. You can always call our professionals to handle the job—we’ll see your pipes have the best possible insulation. But you can also purchase insulating sleeves from hardware stores, cut them to fit, and wrap them around the pipes. 

2. Drip faucets

Still waters may run deep—but they also freeze fast! To stop water in pipes from freezing, we advise you to allow the faucets in your house to drip occasionally. This also relieves the pressure that can build up and lead to pipe bursting. You likely have several faucets or taps in your house that you don’t use often (such as in guest rooms)—these are the fixtures that need to have weekly dripping so the water in them doesn’t stay stagnant for too long.

3. Detach outdoor hoses from bibs and insulate the bibs

Outdoor faucets offer a quick way for ice to get into the rest of the pipes, and leaving hoses attached to the outdoor bibs is practically inviting this to happen. Before winter, detach all the hoses from their bibs, drain them, then wrap them up and store them indoors. Then insulate the bibs to further stop freezing: you can buy bib insulation from hardware stores. 

4. Open under-sink cabinets

Circulation of warm air from your heating system around the house can help stop pipe freezing, especially for the pipes under sinks. You don’t need to throw the under-sink cabinet doors wide open. Leaving them partially open should do the job. 

When on vacation, leave the house heated

Pipe freezing often occurs when people go on a winter vacation and leave the house unheated. You don’t need to leave the thermostat in your house set to a standard warm temperature—you’re trying to stop pipes from freezing, not keep guests warm. We recommend you set the thermostat to 55°F during your vacation. This won’t use up much energy but it will keep the house warm enough to stop the pipes from freezing. 

If you do have frozen pipes, the best step is to call us—attempting to thaw frozen pipes will often cause them to burst even faster! We can handle the repairs necessary for both frozen and burst pipes.

Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. serves the Northshore and Northwest Chicagoland. We’re the emergency plumber to call when you need fast help.

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