Why Are Frozen Pipes a Problem?

Posted by Butter Plumbing

We don’t normally think about frozen pipes here in North Las Vegas, NV, and certainly daytime temperatures never enter the danger zone. But our winter nights can be remarkably cold, and frozen pipes become a viable threat when the thermometer drops below freezing. Why are they a problem, what causes them, and how can you act to prevent them? We’ve included a few ideas to help you out and hopefully save you a lot of expense and bother in the process.

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What Causes Them?

The initial answer is very easy – freezing temperatures turning the water in your plumbing pipes to ice – but it gets more complex than that if you look for more specific causes. Outdoor pipes and pipes running through an outside wall are more vulnerable than those on the inside of the building. Similarly, insulated pipes or pipes in insulated walls run less of a threat than similar pipes without any kind of insulation.

Why They’re Trouble

The most obvious reason for dreading frozen pipes is the fact that you can’t use the affected faucets: water won’t flow, and if the freeze takes place in a drain line, the water will probably back up into the affected sink or tub. In and of itself, that’s a big problem.

But the biggest problem comes with the pressure the ice puts upon the inside of the pipes. It can very easily cause the pipe to burst, which turns a comparatively easy problem (melting the ice safely) into a catastrophic one (repairing water damage to any surrounding material, as well as replacing the affected section of pipe). Frozen pipes resist traditional unclogging methods such as the use of a plunger, and require professional attention to fix. Moving swiftly will ensure the problem doesn’t get worse.

Correction and Prevention

Frozen pipes can be unfrozen slowly by a trained professional, ensuring that no further damage is inflicted on your pipes. In the process, the plumber can discuss preventative options with you and you can determine the best ways to avoid frozen pipes in the future. That can involve anything from adding insulation to repiping an entire section of the home. Such protections will pay dividends in years to come, and if they prevent even one instance of burst pipes, they’ll likely save you money in the long run.

This is of particular concern here in the Las Vegas area because many people own vacation homes, time shares and the like here. Frozen pipes may be occurring year after year when you’re away from the home in the winter. Even if they don’t cause a burst, they can place tremendous strain on the pipes, and if they do burst, it could be months before you discover it. (That’s why it’s important to turn off the water in your home whenever you’ll be gone for any appreciable length of time.)

If you’re dealing with frozen pipes, or you’d like to protect your plumbing system from the possibility of frozen pipes, call on the pros at Butter Plumbing today!

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