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How are pipes inside your home affected by the sharp cold snaps and deep freezes of winter? At Just in Time, our plumbers can check your pipes’ exposure and risk in Hinckley, IL. Since most of your home’s plumbing is unseen, you don’t really know when pipes might be exposed to drafts passing through the walls, unheated basement spaces, crossing over a sill and exposed to the cold as it enters an adjacent garage or addition, or otherwise in an area where perhaps ventilation was more important than warmth, or a plumber didn’t realize that the area was unheated or uninsulated. Even in protected spaces, especially basements and attics, you may choose not to provide much heat and so your pipes might not freeze, but they’ll lose a lot of heat as they pass through. That’s not bad for your cold water lines, but for hot water pipes, that represents a significant loss of the energy invested at the water heater.
Protecting Your Pipes Outdoors
New plumbing gear for outdoor use is available that helps you avoid freezing problems in our climate where it gets plenty cold to freeze water inside hose bibbs attached to your house. With these devices, you can avoid having to drain the supply pipes before the winter season, but if they’re installed and used incorrectly, some of these devices can still freeze. Our plumber can help you make sure your hose bibbs are ready for winter and install these newer ones if you prefer. If you have pipe runs outside, such as a supply line to a shed or garage, our plumber can help you make sure they don’t freeze and possibly burst, making a mess and requiring replacement. Solutions include ways to shut off and drain the pipe which you may already have, plus electric wraps that keep the pipe heated through the winter, some including thermostatic control, and insulation that will protect your pipe to some degree, especially if it’s in an unheated space that’s not actually outdoors. The key is to rely on our experience so that you don’t have to learn what doesn’t work through your own trial and error process.
Pipes in Indoor, Unheated, or Poorly Heated Spaces
It’s sometimes hard to locate every pipe that’s at risk of freezing in your home, especially if you have zoned heating systems or problems with your radiators that result in insufficient heat, or part of your home is under construction and has pipes that may be exposed to cold temperatures. Other potential causes of pipe freezing include pipes that travel across sills into additions, neither insulated by being buried in the earth nor protected by surrounding heated spaces. That small amount of exposed pipe can freeze and cut off the water supply at the far end. Pipes in a well-ventilated furnace room can also be exposed to very cold air and partially or fully freeze, especially if they are routed near the opening to outside. Attic plumbing, including sprinkler systems, should also be checked for exposure to cold air via roof vents or other openings. Our plumber can survey your home and locate risks like these that are out of sight, out of mind to the homeowner but part of the plumber’s standard map of possible home piping.
Conserving the Heat in Your Hot Water
If you’re having your water heater regularly maintained, our plumber will typically make sure that the tank is properly insulated so you’re not heating the surrounding air as well. We can also make sure that your hot water pipes throughout your home are insulated and protected against excessively cold temperatures that could steal heat from the pipes in a big way. In some cases, uninsulated hot water pipes may deliver water that’s lukewarm at best, and you might consider having our plumber install a small tankless water heater at the destination such as a kitchen or master bathroom, to bring the water up to temperature after a long run from the water heater. This also avoids the waste involved in waiting for hot water to travel the length of the pipe before it’s usable. If you have another type of water heater, the strategy might be slightly different, such as making sure you don’t cover the vents and error display on a tankless unit, and recognizing that without insulation on your hybrid water heater, it will not only waste heat and lose some of its heat pump energy savings advantage, it may actually wind up recycling the heat as it escapes from the surface of the tank and is then drawn in by the heat pump to compensate, adding wear to the heat pump components such as the compressor as it operates for longer periods of time to accomplish its goal.
Don’t Forget Your Other Pipes
Hot and cold water supply pipes aren’t the only ones that need protecting and insulating, although the heat loss from the hot water lines and the potential bursting of either type are important issues. Your wastewater lines can become temporarily clogged by ice if they’re exposed to the cold temperatures that we experience here in winter, and there is a risk of bigger trouble with water lingering in the traps beneath your sinks or inside your toilet. For homes where the plumbing is not used in winter, such as lake cabins, our plumber can advise you about winterizing using techniques like replacing the trap water by pouring plumbing safe, non-toxic antifreeze into the toilet and sinks. Don’t forget about any water in your heating system, since it will freeze as well and cause damage if the heating system is off and the rooms are allowed to drop in temperature far enough.
Your Cold Weather Plumbing Specialist in Hinckley, IL
At Just in Time, we know plumbing and how to protect yours from cold weather in Hinckley, IL. Call us and avoid freezing!