January tends to be the coldest month in the Dallas Fort Worth region. The average high is 57 and average low 36. While these numbers don’t raise immediate cause for alarm, they can fluctuate. With freak storms and severe weather occurring with greater frequency, it’s good to know how to protect your pipes from freezing.
The lowest recorded temp in the area was -8 in 1899. This was obviously an anomaly that hasn’t repeated since, however, we have consistently had below freezing temperatures every winter in the past decade. With that in mind, it’s time to be sure that your home’s plumbing is protected when the mercury drops. Outdoor pipes and plumbing along outside walls can be vulnerable to freezing and even bursting. Learn how to protect your pipes during cold weather.
Why Are Pipes Freezing in Texas?
Unexpected weather like the winter storms of 2021 can cause Texas pipes to freeze. In a survey 16% of responders said their pipes froze or burst during the historic storm. In the year prior, State Farm Insurance reported 75 claims for frozen or burst pipes for the entire year. By February 2021, they had received 29,000 claims. Clearly, many Texans weren’t prepared.
The problem with homes in Texas and other southern states is that our plumbing isn’t always protected against these types of cold weather snaps. Our pipes run along outside or uninsulated walls or through crawl spaces and attics where cold air can penetrate. Once water begins to freeze, it expands and puts stress on your pipes.
The Best Ways to Protect Pipes from Freezing
There are several steps you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing or causing a costly break. Be proactive when cold weather hits to ensure your home remains safe.
Insulating pipes that run through cooler, at risk areas can protect them from dropping temperatures. Foam pipe wrap insulation is inexpensive and easy to install. It also provides a vapor barrier to prevent corrosion from pipe sweating. Make sure you purchase the right diameter for your pipes and use insulating tape to adhere it.
Heat tape or cables.
Hardware stores sell several electrically powered pipe wraps that can raise the temperature of your pipes. Make sure you only purchase tested and approved products and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Let faucets drip.
During cold weather, let faucets drip to keep water moving through your pipes. Moving water resists freezing and keeps your pipes fluid.
Let the warmer air in your home reach pipes under sinks and behind cabinets.
Keep your home warm.
Don’t let your thermostat dip below 55, even when you leave for vacation. If you do leave for vacation, have a neighbor check on your home. On especially cold nights, keep your home a warm consistent temperature.
Stop the flow of cold air into your home and around pipes by sealing cracks and seals where cold air enters.
Protect outdoor faucets.
Remove and drain hoses from outdoor faucets in the fall. Cover faucets to prevent ice from getting.
Drain sprinkler and pool lines.
Outdoor supply lines are more susceptible to freezing. When these lines are filled with water they can crack or burst. Follow the instructions for your system to empty the standing water or contact a plumber for help.
For more info on preventing and thawing frozen pipes, see Texas A&M’s winter storm guide.
What To Do If a Frozen Pipe Bursts
There are many ways to thaw a frozen pipe. If you fail to notice your pipes have frozen and you’re now facing a burst pipe, act immediately!
Shut off your home’s water supply. The quickest and easiest way to stop water flowing out of a burst pipe is to close the supply at your main shut off valve. You main shut of valve should be located near your water meter where the water supply enters your home. You’ll either have a ball valve with a handle that you turn perpendicular to the supply pipe or a gate valve with a knob you turn clockwise to shut off the water.
Call a plumber. Repairing or replacing a burst pipe can be a difficult job and is best left to a professional. A certified plumber can cut in, replace or rejoin pipes and make certain that all work is up to local building codes. They can also assess whether any other areas of your plumbing system have been compromised by the burst.
Prevent Frozen Pipes in Texas
Don’t wait for a storm to wreak havoc on your plumbing. Take steps today to protect pipes from freezing. Texas may not experience a lot of cold weather, but you want to be prepared when it does. Schedule an appointment with Ben Franklin today to have us assess and fortify your plumbing against cold winter freezing. We’re always happy to answer questions about frozen pipes in Plano, McKinney and Carrollton along with the greater Dallas area.