Water pipes in Texas are always vulnerable to winter cold spells. Pipes can be located in unprotected areas outside the building insulation like crawl spaces, attics and in outside walls. Research has shown that factors like airflow and wind chill play a major role in accelerating ice blockage of pipes. Homeowners should be on the alert when outside temperatures fall to 20 degrees F or below.
Ice forming in a pipe may not cause a break in the pipe where the blockage occurs. However, the continued freezing and resulting expansion causes water pressure to increase between the blockage in the pipe and the closed faucet at the end, resulting in the pipe bursting.
Pipes most at risk for freezing:
- Pipes in unheated areas of the home
- Pipes located in exterior walls of the home
- Plumbing on the exterior of the home
- Disconnect all garden hoses from the spigot attaching to the house
- Install faucet insulators if you don’t have a frost-proof spigot
- Insulate exposed interior pipes
- Add insulation to walls
- Open cabinets in kitchens and bath to provide maximum heat and ventilation to under-sink pipes
- Turn up the thermost
- Turn on faucets to allow for a slow constant drip
Allowing your faucets to drip during cold snaps is especially important if you lose electrical power is lost
While turning your heater up higher and leaving faucets dripping will cause your utility costs to rise, they are preferable tactics than allowing your pipes to freeze and burst.