Avoid Freezing Pipes: Check these Areas of Your Home

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: December 4, 2019

Nothing prepares you for the shock of waking up to water all over the floors. If a frozen pipe burst while you were sleeping, you have to deal with the flood, contact a pipe repair service and start thinking about water damage repair. This all happens before you put on the coffee, and even that can be a problem because standing water and appliances are a dangerous combination.

There is good news. Sealing up the house can help prevent this soggy scenario, and we have some pointers that will help you avoid freezing pipes.

Understanding How Pipes Freeze

We all know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but pipes can handle cold temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the air around your plumbing hits that chilly number, the water inside the network begins to freeze.

Its volume expands by as much as 9 percent, and that puts an enormous strain on pipes. Try to imagine containing 40 pounds of pressure per square inch, and then picture your plumbing trying to handle up to 40,000 pounds per square inch.

In just a few hours, a drop in outside temperatures can rupture pipes with damage often occurring in weak spots several feet from the frozen area. It all adds up to emergency calls as you contact a pipe repair service, a water damage restoration contractor and your insurance agent.

Knowing Where to Start

If you’re jumping out of the chair with plans to insulate every pipe in the house, you’re getting ahead of a game plan that starts outside. In our Ultimate Winterizing Guide, home improvement pro Tom Silva notes that even a hairline crack in an exterior wall lets in enough cold air to freeze pipes.

We’ll cover insulating strategies with a future post, but outside walls are your first line of defense. When you turn in for the night and realize that it’s chillier than you thought, you add a blanket to the bed.

Sealing up your home is a similar tactic, so check outside walls for areas that bleed cold air into the crawl spaces around your plumbing.

The list of culprits includes:

• Outlets for wiring, vents and outdoor pipes
• Satellite and cable connections
• Garden hose faucets
• Light fixtures and switches
• Vertical siding corner boards

Sealing Out the Freeze

Currently, our Chicago temperatures are still warm enough for working outside, so it’s time to put on your DIY warrior hat. Sealing up the house isn’t a hard job, but it depends on making a careful inspection.

Besides the openings that we’ve listed, take a close look at all the siding on your home. It doesn’t take a howling wind to drop temperatures inside exterior walls. Just a few hours of cold air settling around pipes is enough to cause them to freeze and burst, so break out the caulking gun, load it up, and protect your plumbing from winter’s worst.

Your Main Options

Choosing the right materials makes a difference, and it’s important to use a quality silicone sealant. The product is easy to work with, and it’s very durable and flexible. It won’t shrink or split, and many brands will accept a coat of paint. Seal up hairline cracks in siding, apply the caulk around connections, and don’t forget those corner boards.

For areas that are too large for a line of sealant, fill in gaps with insulating foam. This product simply sprays from the can, so it’s perfect for closing up openings around faucets and AC connections. Once you’re done, you can sleep better and warmer at night knowing that your pipes are protected from a sudden hard freeze.

Your Water Damage Restoration Friends

Your response to our Ultimate Winterizing Guide has been great, and our upcoming posts will cover insulating pipes and dealing with frozen plumbing.

If you ever do wake up to wet floors because a frozen pipe burst during the night, contact ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba right away. We proudly provide the expert water damage restoration Chicago home and business owners depend on 24/7, so just give us a call.