Winter Plumbing Preparation To Prevent Frozen Pipes

You may not expect it, as Arizona is known for its excessive heat but don’t be fooled. Summer temperatures can halt on a dime and without warning freezing temperatures of 32 or below are upon us. Burst water pipes or mains from the drastic temperature change causes major problems for homeowners and water utility companies.

Because of the information above preparing your pipes or plumbing in the winter however will keep your home safe and prevent costly damage. How do we know? Allow us to tell you a story….

The Winter of 2011

February of 2011 was one of the coldest months and years that Tucson has seen since 1949, historically. Because of this forecast we had been gearing up over here at Al Coronado, expecting a profitable but labor intensive season. While we had expected a harsh month, nothing could prepare me for the call I would receive on the morning of the 12th.

The call I have came to name “Basement Rink” came in at about 5:40AM to our emergency dispatch, as we offer 24/7 services. I woke up to grab the on-call phone and answered it the way I always do. The woman on the other end was explaining to me that her houses lower basement had flooded the night before when a pipe cracked and there was a very thin layer of ice covering the floor.

Now typically this would be a plumbing emergency and the owner of the property would be very frantic but the woman I was speaking to was cool and collected (no pun intended). She told me to take my time and that there was no rush. I found this very odd, and even at her request I still found myself hurrying to get to her residence. I got dressed as quickly as possible and headed out.

While driving to the service requests address I noticed that most of the neighborhood had sheets of ice fixed to their cars and even the road felt a bit slippery under my company truck’s tires. As I arrived and pulled into the woman house who had called, I grabbed the necessary tools I would need to assess her burst pipes and headed to the door and rang the bell.

When the door swung open the woman was standing there looking taller than I expected. At that exact moment, I looked her up and down only to realize she was wearing a winter hat, gloves, earmuffs and to my surprise ice skates. She smiled at me cheerfully, and beckoned me to come in. In the time it took me to walk in and close the door behind me, the woman had sat down on a bench next to her outermost wall and was unlacing her skates and smiled.

I smiled back and asked her what she was doing. She laughed and asked me to come down the stairs to her basement to check on her plumbing problem. When I walked into the basement, I saw something I would have never expected to see.

All of her windows were propped open and the water on the floor from the burst pipe had created a seemingly stable layer of ice, so much that she had been ice skating on it. At this point I looked at her and we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. I asked her if she would like me to leave her skating rink so that she could enjoy it through the next few days and possibly even invite the folks in the neighborhood for skating sessions.

While she did decline and the issue was resolved that same day; I will never forget the basement rink.

So, Why Do Pipes Burst In Winter?

When water freezes it expands and this can put a tremendous amount of pressure on the pipes that house it.

The pipes that are at greatest risk for bursting are pipes that run against the exterior of a homes walls or that have not been insulated correctly. Pipes located in unheated areas are even more prone to bursting. Places like attics, basements and cabinets pose a moderate risk but pipes located outside of your house to swimming pools, sprinklers and hose bibs are at the highest risk.

How To Prepare Indoor Plumbing For Winter

  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces to raise the temperature of those areas.
  • Keep your garage door closed if you have water supply lines in the garage.
  • Leave your home set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees if you go out of town.
  • Repair broken windows and doors to help regulate the temperatures inside your home.
  • Let your kitchen or bathroom faucets drip a tiny amount during extreme temperatures to keep water moving through the pipes.
  • Remove all your outdoor hoses from the spigot. Hoses can hold a lot of water and freeze and expand causing damage to the spigot.

If you think you have a frozen or busted water pipe, Al Coronado Recommends The Following:

  • Completely open the cold water faucet closet to the pipe to relieve the pressure and reduce the chance of the pipe breaking.
  • Using a hair dryer (not a blow torch) you can slowly warm the pipe to thaw it.

Call Al Coronado Plumbing in Tucson, Az who can safely thaw your frozen pipe and make sure your other pipes aren’t in danger of doing the same.

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