Imagine my surprise when I came home from work one freezing cold evening and found water flooding my basement. I ran to turn off the water and then I called the plumber. Even though it was late in the evening, the plumber immediately came to my house and fixed the busted water line. The plumber told me that I could have prevented my water line from freezing and busting if I had winterized the pipes. After researching various methods, I insulated the pipes so they won't freeze again. My name is Joel Hampton and this blog is about the different ways to winterize your plumbing pipes to keep them from freezing. Coming home to a basement filled with water is a nightmare and I hope that after reading the information in my blog, it won't happen to you.
The harsh freezes in winter can take their toll on your home's plumbing. Pipes that are located outside your home or in outward walls can sometimes freeze up, which interrupts service and risks the pipe bursting. If a water pipe only freezes once a winter, it's easy enough to run some hot water through and point a heater at the pipe until it loosens up.
But if you have a pipe or pipes that frequently freeze you're going to wear yourself out trying to constantly manually unfreeze them -- or go broke hiring a plumber every week. There are a few different ways you can prevent and protect constantly freezing pipes.
Heat Tape or Cable
There are a few products designed for keeping pipes warm that can be found at most hardware stores.
The cheapest and simplest option is heat tape, which works similarly to wrapping the pipes up tightly in duct tape. Insulation qualities in the tape material help ward off the cold while protecting the natural heat within the pipes. The tape is best if you're on a tight budget, are working on a small section of exposed pipe, or the pipe isn't located anywhere near electricity.
If you are working on a larger exposed pipe and an electrical outlet is handy, then heat cable might be a better option. You want to coil the cable snugly around the length of pipe and plug the end into an outlet. The cable then warms up to provide an actual external source of heat for the pipe.
Cross-linked polyethylene or PEX is a type of flexible piping that is resistant to freezing. If you have sections of pipe that constantly freeze, you might consider switching those lines over to PEX piping.
Replacing the piping is best left in the capable hands of a reputable plumber. PEX segments are easy to bend into tight or awkward places but the segments need to be glued together correctly or the sections can come apart. A plumber can ensure these connects are done well and can run the pipe through your exterior walls if that's where the freezing is happening.
Some pipes are positioned in such a way that the winter elements are always going to affect performance. In that case, you might want to hire a plumber to come out and reroute that pipe.
Tucking the pipe inside the walls or closer to the underside of your home can be enough to greatly reduced the chances of a freeze. The plumber can also use the relocation time to switch the pipe over to PEX, if necessary. For more information on this and other plumbing topics, contact a professional like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.