Winters in Northwest Indiana (NWI) can be unpredictable. One day, it might be sunny and warm enough for a light jacket. The next day, lake effect snow may hit and temperatures could dip below zero. With winters so crazy, it’s important to know how to prepare your house for frigid temperatures and erratic weather conditions. That’s why we are going to tell you how to keep the pipes from freezing in your Northwest Indiana home this winter.
First, Why Are Frozen Pipes So Bad?
To begin, liquid cannot flow through a frozen pipe. However, the biggest reason you should not let your pipes freeze is because they can easily burst. Unlike most liquids, water actually expands when it freezes. This is due to the molecular configuration of water, which forms crystalline shapes as it turns into ice. Frozen water actually becomes less dense than liquid water (which you can see by noticing that ice floats on water!). In short, this means that water grows when it freezes.
Now, your pipes only have so much space within them. So, if the water inside expands as it freezes, it will burst the pipes. The freezing pipes can sustain damage throughout the entire length or in localized points. When the pipe damage spans a significant distance in your home, the repairs can become very costly. Whether there is localized or widespread damage to your Northwest Indiana pipelines, burst pipes will require replacement. Read on to understand how to keep your pipes from bursting this winter so that you can protect your NWI home and wallet.
So, How Do You Keep Pipes From Freezing in Your Home?
There are many ways to prevent pipe freezing in your Northwest Indiana home. The best way to avoid this is to keep them warm through insulation and temperature control. However, there are many other methods.
If you are approaching a night where temperatures are going to drop rapidly and you do not have time for more permanent methods of pipeline protection, you may need to explore temporary measures to prevent freezing pipes. Explore some of the short-term methods below to prevent pipe freezing in your Northwest Indiana home.
- Keep your faucets open on those frigid nights.
Moving water can prevent bursting pipes in your Northwest Indiana home. Even if the water is kept at a slow trickle, this can protect your home from freezing pipes.
- Open your cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the pipes inside.
The warm air in your home may not be as effective inside of your cabinets. Opening any cabinets that have pipelines running inside them can let the warm air in, allowing the pipes to stay warm enough to prevent pipe freezing.
- Avoid cold spots by keeping vents open throughout your home so that warm air is moving within the entire house.
On those cold nights in NWI, you may be tempted to close some of your home vents to lower energy costs. However, this can cause areas of your home to quickly drop in temperature, which can cause freezing pipes in that area of your home. Keep all vents open to maintain an even, warm temperature throughout your home and within your pipes.
- Drain all outdoor faucets so that stagnant water is not sitting inside the pipelines.
Don’t let water stay in your outdoor faucets, as this can cause the pipes in that area to freeze and burst. Be sure to drain all outdoor faucets before freezing temperatures move into Northwest Indiana.
- Leave the furnace on, even if it has to be at a lower setting.
It can be costly to heat your home, but it can be even more expensive to repair several freezing pipes that burst. Keep the furnace turned on in your home, even if it’s at a lower setting. When you are not home, your house still needs to be warmed to prevent freezing pipes.
The Most Effective Solutions to Prevent Bursting Pipes in Your NWI Home
Though the short-term methods can help you protect your pipes, the best thing to do is implement long-term protection. Some of the best ways to keep your pipes from freezing during the Northwest Indiana winters are explained below.
- Insulate your pipes and crawlspace.
The most effective way to prevent freezing pipes is to insulate them and the area of your house that surrounds them. Pipe insulation can be affordable, and it is also much cheaper than replacing burst pipelines. Additionally, many pipelines run through the crawlspace of NWI homes. Insulating the crawlspace can keep the heat inside your home and around your pipes, preventing bursting pipes.
- Insulate your home walls.
Warm air can escape through the walls, windows, doors, and other areas of your Northwest Indiana home. Insulating the walls keeps a lot of the heat inside your home, which prevents pipe freezing AND lowers energy costs to heat your home!
- Replace the standard outdoor faucets with frost-resistant faucets.
Specialized faucets can keep water from freezing in the pipes that lead to your outdoor faucets. Install these to prevent freezing pipes outside your NWI home.
- Have any cracks in your home walls repaired.
Cracks in your walls can allow cold air to enter your home and warm air to escape it. To better control the indoor climate of your Northwest Indiana home, have any cracks in your walls repaired as soon as possible. This will lower energy expenditures and also prevent pipe freezing.
- Have your home pipes rerouted away from the coldest areas of your house.
If you know that certain parts of your home are difficult to keep warm, it may be best to reroute any pipelines away from that part of your house. These areas are prone to freezing pipes, which can quickly become bursting pipes.
Now you know how to prevent freezing pipes in your Northwest Indiana home, both in the short-term and long-term time frames. Prevention is the best way to avoid costly repairs and damaged pipelines that can interfere with the operation of your home pipeline systems. However, sometimes freezing pipes happen even when you have tried to prevent them. So, what do you do then?
How to Fix Frozen Pipes
You tried to avoid freezing pipes…but it didn’t work. Now you’re stuck with a frozen pipe. How do you fix it? Well, it’s best to let a professional help with this, but sometimes you are not able to do that. Here are some tips if you find yourself wondering how to fix a frozen pipe.
- Keep the faucets open! While you are thawing the pipe, it will create steam. The water and steam will need somewhere to go, so keep the faucets open.
- Never use an open flame to thaw your home pipelines! This poses a very serious fire hazard, and starting a fire will cause much more damage to your home than the frozen pipe.
- Use safe methods to apply heat to the frozen pipe. This can include warmed water under the pipe, a heat pack, a hair dryer, or another method that DOES NOT have any open flame source. If you use a source that is plugged in (such as a hair dryer or heating pad), do not leave them unattended. Continue to actively monitor them to prevent any fire hazards. Only use a space heater if you are certain the area is clear of anything flammable AND you will be visually monitoring the area for the entire thawing process.
- Don’t hesitate to call an expert! Thawing freezing pipes can be tricky, especially when they are in hard-to-reach locations. It is always best to leave this process to a professional, which is why we recommend calling a plumber for any issue regarding frozen pipelines. The FreeFlow team would be glad to guide you in repairing damaged pipes in your Northwest Indiana home.
Remember: The Best Thing To Do is to Prevent Pipe Freezing in the First Place!
In this article, we have explained the importance of preventing freezing pipes, and we have given you tips on how to do so. We also provided tips on what to do if you are dealing with pipes that have already frozen, but it is best to prevent this from happening to start with! And, if you do have frozen pipes in your Northwest Indiana home, we recommend calling in an expert right away. Don’t wait until the pipes burst!
In summary, avoid frozen pipes in your Northwest Indiana home by insulating your pipes, walls, and crawlspace. Keep your furnace running in the winter. If you need quick prevention, keep your faucets on and open all vents and cabinet doors to keep your pipes warm. Overall, keep your NWI pipelines warm this winter to avoid costly repair bills!
If you find yourself needing help with pipeline problems in Northwest Indiana, contact FreeFlow Environmental. We can guide you to the right solutions to repair any frozen pipelines and prevent frozen pipes in the future!