Are you worried that the pipes in your home might freeze or are starting to freeze? Recognizing the signs can help you take fast action to prevent damage. You can also keep your eyes open for risk factors that might increase your odds of experiencing a frozen or burst pipe. Learning what to watch for and how to spot signs of trouble can help prevent major plumbing problems this winter. Prevention is the key to avoiding this common winter problem and potentially avoiding costly expenses.
Signs of Frozen Pipes
One of the top signs you will notice if you have frozen pipes is no water. If the water in your kitchen sink dribbles out when you try to fill your teapot in the morning, you probably have frozen pipes. You may also notice that your bathroom sink has no water when you start to brush your teeth in the morning. Both of these issues are signs of an issue with frozen pipes in your home.
Gurgling Sounds from the Pipes
While gurgling noises in your drains may be an indicator of a clogged drain or blocked sewer line, these types of sounds can also indicate that there is a frozen pipe in your plumbing system. The gurgling you hear can be because of a partial clog that is starting to thaw.
Smells Coming from the Drains in Your Home
If you notice odors coming from the sinks or other drains in your home, it could indicate that you have frozen pipes. When water expands as it freezes, it can cause pipes to become blocked and even burst. Blockage can prevent wastewater from draining, which leads to a buildup. The odor is from wastewater that sits in the pipes and starts to decompose, which leads to the gas that you smell in your home.
The Pipes Have Frost on Them
During the winter, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the pipes in your home. If you notice there is a formation of frost on the pipes, and they are not insulated, this could be an indication of frozen pipes.
There is Water Damage in Your Home
Water damage in cold climates could indicate that your pipes are frozen and one has burst. If a frozen pipe has pressure that builds up, it can burst and cause water damage to your home. Visible leaks, water pooling, water leaks down the foundation or walls, and mold are all signs of water damage in your home.
Causes of Frozen Pipes
One of the biggest causes of frozen pipes in your home is poor insulation. If your home’s pipes aren’t insulated properly, they could be exposed to extreme cold temperatures, leading to frozen pipes. Without insulation, pipes have rapid heat loss and exposure to rapid temperature drops during cold snaps, which will lead to faster freezing. Metal pipes are also more likely to freeze quickly when they aren’t insulated properly.
If there is an inefficient heating system in your home, an occurrence of frozen pipes in the areas of your home that don’t heat well is possible. Uneven heating can result in cold spots, which are usually in areas like basements, attics, and near exterior walls. These are all locations with potentially vulnerable pipes. You may also have a heating system that has temperature fluctuations. Inconsistent heating and rapid cooling can also mean that your home’s pipes are at high risk of freezing.
Cold Air Entering Home
If you have an older home that has gaps around the windows or doors, this can lead to frozen pipes. Unsealed gaps and cracks in the building structure give frigid air a way into your home. Areas that are already poorly insulated are typically the areas that also have unsealed gaps. You may also want to check ventilation systems and exhausts to ensure that they are well-sealed. Some of these areas are bathrooms and laundry rooms with ventilation. When cold air comes into your home it can lead to a significant drop in temperature, resulting in frozen plumbing pipes.
Open Garage Doors
If you leave your garage door open in the winter to do projects, this can lead to frozen pipes. You may also open the garage door to organize items in your garage, unknowingly leading to issues with plumbing that is near or in your garage. Uninsulated pipes in the garage or in walls that are adjacent to your garage are also at risk of freezing due to extreme temperatures, which is why insulation is so important.
If you plan on taking a winter vacation this year and don’t want to risk frozen pipes, you need to have someone watch your home to monitor the plumbing system. When someone checks on your home and something is wrong, they can notify us that thereâ€™s a problem and you may have less damage because they found the issue sooner. Leaving for long periods in the winter may lead to frozen pipe issues, especially if there are prolonged or extremely low temperatures. If there isn’t anyone in your home, the lack of air circulation can also lead to colder areas in your home, which can contribute to freezing pipes.
Turning Off the Heat
Sometimes, when people go on vacation, they think that turning off the heat can help save them money. While this is true, there is a high potential of pipes freezing because of unexpected extreme temperatures. Instead, keep the heat in your home at a reasonable and steady temperature throughout the winter to avoid burst pipes and structural damage caused by frozen pipes.
Another good reason to have someone check on your home if youâ€™re absent during the winter months is because of power outages. While you may have your home’s temperature set properly to ensure that the pipes won’t freeze, a power outage can still lead to serious plumbing issues, especially if it lasts for many hours or days.
Infrequent Use of Water
If there is an area of your house that you don’t use often, like a guest bathroom, then you might notice frozen pipes in that area. This is because the water in that area is not used frequently, and stagnant water can freeze more easily.
Malfunctioning Heating Cables
If you have heating cables installed for the pipes in your home and they malfunction, the pipes may freeze. Before winter, check your insulation and heating cables for the plumbing so that you have peace of mind that the pipes won’t freeze during a major storm or cold spell.
At Thermo Direct in Raleigh, North Carolina, we provide plumbing repairs, installation services, and drain cleaning for homes in the area. Our friendly team also provides heating, cooling, and electrical services. Contact Thermo Direct for more information today!