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Over the last several years, Bloomington, IL, has seen quite a few cold snaps that have led to frozen and burst water pipes. In 2018, several days of sub-zero temperatures caused headaches for both businesses and homeowners in Illinois. The City of Bloomington’s Water Department responded to several dozen calls from local businesses, and many residents also had to call their local plumber. The same happened again in 2019, and even now, there’s a risk of sub-zero temperatures affecting your plumbing. Given that frozen pipes are a real risk in Bloomington, IL, we’re here to help you determine what to do and what not to do if your pipes freeze up in early winter or during the cold start to spring.
One key reason why freezing pipes is such a worry is that as water freezes, it expands. Take an ice tray, for example, where this phenomenon is easily observable. Fill the slots right up to the top, and you’ll notice that once the water has frozen, it expands above the line. When it comes to the water that’s freezing in pipes, however, there’s no extra space for the frozen water to expand into, which causes additional pressure against pipe walls, both metallic and ceramic types.
Why frozen pipes are so troublesome
In the best-case scenario, the pipe walls will withstand the pressure, but in the worst-case scenario, you will see burst pipes and flooding when the ice melts and exits via the leak rather than your interior fixtures. As well as needing a plumber to deal with the leak, you’ll likely see a considerable spike in your water bill costs, as well as other effects, such as low pressure.
Pipes freeze when the water sitting in them is exposed to consistently freezing temperatures, usually over several hours or days. Aside from low environmental temperatures during winter, snowstorms, and the like, another common cause of freezing pipes is the breakdown of a furnace. Our first recommendation to help you avoid frozen pipes in the run-up to expecting cold weather is to schedule a furnace tune-up from a professional. A professional’s attention to your furnace can spot potential issues that could lead to a later breakdown.
Before winter starts, your plumber may also recommend one of the following services:
- Home insulation. Insulating unprotected pipes can help to prevent freezing in winter. Try to make sure that any insulation used doesn’t leave gaps. One way to add extra protection is to use pipe sleeves and make sure any joins and slits are sealed up.
- Basement, attic, and crawl space inspections. Look for cracks or air leaks and have noticeable ones sealed up. Seeing to these has the bonus of making your home more energy-efficient too.
- Arrange a plumbing inspection. A reputable plumber can assess all aspects of your home or business’ plumbing systems to identify any key areas that need attention before the cold weather starts. Assessments may include furnace inspections, thermostat tuning, pipe inspections, and HVAC checks.
Sadly, any time the temperature dips below 32 degrees F, your pipes are at risk of freezing. Frozen pipes not only restrict water flow, but they can also cause crack and leaks. While a plumber that offers emergency repair services can remedy any major plumbing accidents ASAP, it’s often better to highlight and fix more minor issues before they become more significant headaches.
Naturally, you would turn to a variety of methods to keep your home during colder months. Taking steps to maintain your furnace in the run-up to cold weather will help with frozen pipe prevention, but you can also take care to keep your garage door closed, use faucet covers, and try and encourage under-the-sink circulation. Another thing you can do is drain your exterior faucets.
Draining your faucets to prevent freezing
During colder months, you won’t be watering your lawn as much, and it’s certainly not something you’ll likely be doing when it’s below freezing. Draining exterior faucets can reduce the possibility of freezing pipes, and can be done by cutting off the water supply and then opening the faucet to let any residual water out. Your water supply switches may be located in your basement or utility area, and the plumber you request to help you with your winter preparation can either help you find the necessary switches or complete the whole task for you. If you have interior faucets that are prone to freezing, your plumber may encourage you to let the water drip a little. You can do this for hot, cold, and mixer taps, as even the slightest subtle water movement could be enough to help prevent freezing.
What to do about frozen pipes
All it takes is one cold evening, one issue with your furnace, and suddenly you’re dealing with ice-filled pipes. Frozen pipes are the fear of many homeowners, but a fast, reliable plumbing service from a plumber at Covenant can help diminish your worries. We can help you with piping and repiping, leak detection and provide a whole host of useful plumbing services that can help you to identify and fix issues related to frozen pipes in Bloomington. Simply contact our local office on Olympia Drive, use our contact form, or give us a call to find out more about what we can do for you.
In the event that you believe some of your pipes have already frozen and may cause an issue for your building’s plumbing system, a licensed professional plumber from Covenant Plumbing will not only be able to accurately assess the damage caused, but also determine the level of repairs which you might need. Trying to tackle frozen pipes using home remedies is not recommended. Trying to thaw iced-up pipes using a hairdryer or an electric blanket can put additional stress on the plumbing and increase the likelihood of a pipe fracture. Not only that, combining electricity and water is a significant hazard. As your pipes start to dethaw naturally, call a professional to investigate whether the melting ice is likely to cause any water torrents or other hazards.