Masterworks Mechanical provides tips to prevent freeze ups
Masterworks Mechanical, a local plumbing, heating and air conditioning company, said that they didn’t have a lot of emergency plumbing and heating situations over the holidays, but the company wanted to provide additional information for homeowners to prevent frozen and damaged pipes.
Vic Updike, president of Masterworks said that most water pipes freeze up in the area due to consecutive days of below zero weather.
Most homes can withstand 24 hours of cold, followed by a warm up. The “weak links” require extended cold weather to penetrate the insulation enough to freeze.
Common areas for freeze ups:
- Supply lines coming from below ground entering a home, typically in trailer homes.
- Plumbing in or on exterior walls.
- Poorly insulated rim joists allow cold air to penetrate deeply into the structure. This exposes all plumbing lines located in the joist bays to potentially freeze.
- Hose bib locations.
- Plumbing lines near vent penetrations to the exterior (dryer vents or exhaust fan vents.) Vents in the right circumstances can allow air to flow into the house. Any plumbing near these vents will freeze.
Pre winter checklist:
- Remove all outside hoses from hose bibs. Hose bibs are designed to eliminate the water in the piping 10 to 12 inches behind the bib when shut off. This cannot happen with a hose or extra shut off valve installed, such as a swamp cooler tap. Inspect each hose bib that it is completely shut off. Leaking hose bibs will cause severe damage by flooding homes. If icicles form on the hose bib outlet at the first sign of cold weather, that could be an early indication of a leaking or dribbling hose bib.
- Check heat tapes and insulation on risers coming from the ground all the way to the penetration of the home. Heat tapes should be replaced every three years. Because tapes are exposed to extreme temperatures, water and electricity, relying on them longer than three years is a gamble. Heat tapes can be tested by placing a Ziploc bag full of ice on the temperature sensor. You should feel warmth generating on the tape within a couple of minutes.
- Seal all cracks and holes in skirting. A large amount of the freeze up calls Masterworks receive related to this.
- In areas of the home that plumbing supply lines run in exterior walls, the chance of freezing is higher. If particular areas have frozen before, trickling water overnight as prevention. Be sure the fixture drains well to prevent overnight flooding in the home.
- Assure heating appliances in the home have been serviced and are ready to reliably perform its job flawlessly. Remember, these appliances show their weakness when their operation is needed most.
- Heat tapes should never cross over one another. The manufacturer’s installation instructions will specify how closely to space each wrap. Areas that are heat taped cannot have any debris present. Clear away wrappers, papers, wood, grass, and other debris from the insulated areas.
- Never leave a space heater unattended while thawing. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby while thawing. If it’s needed, there won’t be time to run and get one before damage occurs.
- If the freeze was severe enough, pipe damage may have occurred. When water begins flowing again, broken valves and ruptured pipes and fittings will spray a lot of water quickly. Make sure to know where the water shutoff is located before thawing. Some houses don’t have an easily accessible means to shut down service.
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