5 Common Causes of Frozen Pipes 

When winter comes, it's not uncommon to see your water pipes freeze in your home or building. As long as you keep the heat on and try to thaw them out periodically, it's not usually that big of a deal. However, it can become a problem when you forget about your frozen pipes and stay that way for too long. 

To help you make sure this doesn't happen, here are five most common causes of frozen pipes and some steps you can take to avoid them in the future. 

1) Poor Drainage

When water isn't able to get away from your home quickly enough, it can freeze in place, building up inside your walls. When that happens, there's nothing left for it to go but straight through any pipes that happen to be located nearby. If you live in an area prone to freezing temperatures or windy conditions, consider talking with a drainage specialist about how you can improve your drainage and make sure your pipes don't get frozen. Water leaking out of faucets because drains are clogged is another common cause of frozen pipes; when your drain line is obstructed, excess water has nowhere else to go.

2) Exposure to Cold

Cold temperatures can certainly freeze your pipes. When water freezes, it expands and contracts to get rid of heat. But when it's inside a pipe, it can't expand, so it stays at its original size until something gives--which is usually either a crack in your pipe or a burst pipe. In other words, cold weather makes your pipes weak and vulnerable to breaking or bursting. If you're concerned about keeping warm, keep an eye on pipes near drafty windows or doors; pipes that are exposed to cold for extended periods of time are more likely to freeze and burst than those that aren't. If you live somewhere where winter storms typically bring sub-zero temperatures for days on end, consider investing in a quality thermometer (perhaps one with an alert function) that measures both ambient temperature and temperature in individual rooms throughout your house. 

3) Power Outages

When you rely on electricity to heat your home, frozen pipes are a likely result. If you're smart about winterizing your plumbing system, you can prevent most problems with frozen pipes. This will keep your family safe and warm through even those worst power outages. Make sure outdoor faucets and hoses have shut-off valves; be sure indoor pipes have insulation in strategic places; do an extra good job of insulating especially vulnerable areas like exterior walls and crawl spaces; and make it a habit to clear snow from your roof regularly as well as any gutters or drainage areas close to your house.  

4) Leaky Conduits

Your home's plumbing is often subject to freezing and thawing during winter. As a result, your valves may begin to leak, causing water to drip and freeze into ice inside your walls or onto basement floors. To prevent leaks and related problems, check that all of your exterior faucets are closed before leaving on a trip or going away for an extended period. Then, when you return, make sure they're open again. Also, drain any hoses attached to outdoor spigots during cold periods; hoses could become blocked by frost in your absence. And finally, be sure to install heat tape on vulnerable pipes—it won't do much good once frozen pipes have already caused damage.

5) Blockages

Blocked pipes are not only one of the most common causes of frozen pipes, but they're also one of the easiest to prevent. If your pipes become blocked and you don't have time to fix them before winter sets in, it's important to leave faucets running at a slow drip. This allows for any debris that could be blocking water flow an easy way out without totally clogging up your system. Ensure all drains are free of hair and other grime before leaving home for even a short period. Hair can easily get wrapped around drain stoppers, preventing them from sealing properly. Before going on vacation or taking a business trip during freezing temperatures, clear these items—and anything else left over from regular household cleaning—away from plumbing fixtures and turn off as many sinks and faucets as possible so water isn't trickling down internal walls when temperatures drop below freezing. 

Common Causes of Frozen Pipes - Summary

Even if you take these steps, there may still be times when a pipe freezes anyway, but being prepared and knowing what to do will help save money—and heartache. If a pipe does freeze, don't waste time getting it thawed before taking care of business: In some cases (like frozen pipes caused by excessive heat) waiting could cause more damage than just breaking off the pipe at that point and having all new pipes installed by professionals. 

Frozen pipes are not a fun thing to deal with, especially when you consider that most home insurance policies do not cover frozen pipe damages. Since frozen pipes are so common, it's a good idea to know some of the more common causes so you can start protecting yourself from them now. Then, if your pipes freeze again in the future, you'll be better prepared for it.

Get in contact with the Frozen Pipe Repair Professionals at Bulldog Rooter today to learn more about Frozen Pipes, their Causes and how we Service Frozen Pipes!  

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