Harsh winters and subzero temperatures can cause many problems in and out of your home. You may not worry much about your outdoor plumbing as it gets cold. Leaving your outdoor plumbing alone is a risk, however, and you might learn the hard way that it shouldn’t be ignored. Learn about ways you can protect your outdoor plumbing from freezing.
What Kind of Plumbing Might Freeze in the Winter?
Freezing can be an issue, no matter the type of outdoor plumbing or pipes. Common types of plumbing that may freeze in the winter are hose bibs, swimming pool lines, and water sprinkler lines. Copper or PVC pipes are also more likely to freeze than other types of pipes, such as PEX.
Copper pipes tend to lose heat quickly and are not good at swelling to accommodate the water pressure or to accommodate the extremely cold temperatures. PVC pipes are made of plastic, so they retain heat better than copper pipes and can stretch more as needed. However, they may become brittle in harsh subzero temperatures and pop or crack under the pressure.
PEX is a material with a great chance of making it through harsh winter weather. This material is more flexible than copper or similar metals. While it still has a risk of bursting, combining it with other methods to prevent freezing during the cold months may give you better success. If PEX pipes are going to burst from the pressure of freezing water, it is usually the fittings that go first, proving the PEX material’s capability to stretch and bend as needed.
How Outdoor Pipes Can Freeze in the Winter
Outdoor pipes are at risk of freezing whenever the temperature in your area drops below freezing. Water left inside the plumbing will freeze and begin to expand inside the pipes. As the pipes continue to expand, they will eventually burst or crack, causing a more significant issue for your plumbing in the future. This can become a big problem when the air is at subzero temperatures for long periods of time and there is no warmth coming from the home or some other source to keep drippings above freezing temperature.
The Dangers of Frozen Pipes
Frozen pipes are not only inconvenient but the damages caused are also extremely expensive to deal with. Once outdoor pipes freeze and burst, the water can extend until it reaches your indoor water supply. Frozen plumbing can mean a backed-up water supply and no water coming out of your faucets.
The longer you have frozen and bursting pipes running through your plumbing system, the more expensive repairs may be. Frozen pipes can cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace and are a common issue people run into during the winter. While you may be able to file a claim with your insurance company for the damage, the damage is often more than your insurance company will cover under your policy. This can be a detrimental and frustrating loss financially as you will be left to cover the remaining costs after filing a claim.
How to Prevent Your Outdoor Plumbing From Freezing
Prevention is the best way to save yourself the trouble of dealing with frozen outdoor plumbing later in the year.
Make sure you turn off sprinklers and outdoor faucets before the cold hits. Then, make sure you drain the lines completely. Leftover water inside the system will surely freeze quickly. It’s best practice to ensure things are as dry as possible before the freeze. Winterizing outdoor hose bibs can lighten up some of the pressure on them and stop dripping that can lead to freezing. You can leave these bibs open during the winter as well. While it may seem like it can make freezing more of an issue, it can help with the pressure frozen water causes on the pipes and make bursting or cracking pipes less of a possibility during the season.
You may also want to have any pipes that are going to be left vulnerable to the elements insulated before it gets colder. Insulation can be wrapped directly around the outside of the water pipes to prevent them from getting too cold as temperatures drop. This insulation can also be helpful when wrapped around hose bibs to prevent them from freezing even if the pipes themselves are covered. A common type of insulation that is used for outdoor plumbing is pipe wrap. Various materials can make up pipe insulation, including foil-backed fiberglass, mineral wool, elastomeric foam rubber, or rubber insulation tape. The thick material makes it perfect for combatting the cold for longer periods.
Another way to keep your outdoor pipes from freezing is to keep your home heated and warm. Many outdoor water lines run in the home. Keeping your house warm can help keep the water running through the pipes at a higher temperature. The warmth can also extend outside, to the plumbing that goes to the house’s exterior.
What to Do When Your Outdoor Pipes Freeze
Even though you take the right prevention methods to avoid freezing, there may still come a time when the temperatures are subzero for longer periods than you expected, causing your pipes to freeze. If you have an issue with frozen pipes, reach out to a plumber as soon as possible for help.
Before you call, look for these signs to see if your pipes are frozen.
- Lack of water or no flow from faucets
- Frost on the pipes
- Bulging pipes or lines
These are all good indicators to let you know if you have an issue with frozen plumbing. Once you contact a professional plumber, your pipes may be thawed and inspected to make sure they do not need repair or replacement services. If you do need a replacement, however, our professional plumbers can help with a proper pipe replacement, so you can feel confident that your pipes are safe to use for the rest of the winter.
Our Professional Services
Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is here for any of your plumbing needs. We provide Oregon, Washington, and Idaho with professional and efficient plumbing services. When winter comes and your pipes freeze, we’re here to help. We are also here if ever you need a clogged pipe or line repair. Our professional team is equipped with all of the necessary tools to make repairing your outdoor plumbing easier than ever.
What Our Professionals Offer
At Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we pride ourselves on high-quality plumbing Heating and cooling services throughout the Oregon, Washington, and Idaho areas. We have been family owned and operated since 1984, and our commitment to helping you continues to be one of the most important things for our business. We offer home comfort services with a focus on providing thorough, high-quality work every time. We are committed to transparent, timely, service with plumbers available 24/7 for all of your emergencies or sudden problems.
Contact Apollo Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today to learn more about our available services or to schedule a time for a technician to visit your home.