How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Apartment
During the winter, the freezing cold temperatures can force you to remain indoors at your home. In your apartment, you are protected from the cold and can relax in a comfortable, warm environment. However, your home may not always be able to protect you from the threat of winter’s cold temperatures.
Given the bitter cold, frozen and burst pipes are a common occurrence in the winter and can result in extensive damage to your apartment. If your apartment building’s water pipes are not prepared for the cold, they might burst and cause problems for tenants. If the issue is severe enough, tenants could be temporarily forced out of their homes.
Just as you can be protected from the cold, your apartment’s pipes can be prevented from freezing and bursting.
Continue reading to learn more about how pipes freeze and burst, how to prevent frozen pipes in your apartment, and how to react to such a situation.
How Do Pipes Freeze and Burst?
When the temperature is cold enough, any water inside of your pipes will freeze and turn into ice. As the water transitions to a solid state, it will expand in size. If the ice is large enough, it will place pressure on the pipes from within. With enough internal pressure, the ice can force the frozen pipes to crack open and cause a leak. In higher pressure situations, the frozen pipes may even burst open, spilling water into the surrounding area. This can happen with both plastic and metal pipes.
However, freezing outside temperatures are not the sole cause of frozen pipes. Poor insulation and poorly heated indoor air are also contributing factors.
How Can I Prevent Frozen Pipes?
1. Maintain A Proper Indoor Temperature
If you keep your apartment at a consistently warm temperature throughout the day, then you limit the potential for your pipes to freeze and burst. Have tenants set their thermostats at 55 degrees or higher, and make sure common areas are set at that temperature as well.
2. Maintain Warm and Insulated Pipes
Landlords should take a look at the building’s exposed pipes and check if they are properly insulated. If they are not, then you should add sufficient insulation to these pipes. Pipe insulation comes in various materials and is easy to add as the insulation can be fitted to and wrapped around the pipe.
It is also helpful to provide extra insulation and heat in areas that contain pipes. For example, basements can be tough to heat, so adding some extra insulation can be helpful in keeping the cold away.
3. Let Faucets Drip
When the temperatures outside are freezing, an easy thing tenants can do to prevent the pipes from freezing is to allow a low drip of water to run from all faucets. People might be concerned about the wasted water and the money it will cost. However, the money spent on these small trickles of water is low compared to the amount that would need to be spent to repair burst pipes and the ensuing water damage.
4. Allow Warm Air to Circulate Pipes
The pipes for faucets do not often get much warm air because they’re in a small, enclosed space. This makes them more prone to freezing. To prevent this, tenants should open up the bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors beneath their sinks. This will allow warm air to reach and circulate around the pipes, minimizing the potential for freezing.
What Should I Do About Frozen Pipes?
If you find that the pipes in your apartment have frozen, then you can thaw them yourself to prevent them from bursting. You can use a heat source like a hair dryer, but never use an open flame of any kind. You can also hire a plumber to help. The sooner you act, the less chance there is of the pipe bursting. However, even if the pipe hasn’t burst, you should still look out for any cracks it may have caused because they will lead to a leak.
You can tell that your pipes have frozen if there is frost on them or if there’s no water running out of your faucets. Ice may have formed in the pipe and created a dam, preventing any water from running through the pipes.
What Should I Do About Burst Pipes?
Even if you follow the aforementioned tips on how to prevent frozen pipes, it does not guarantee your pipes will not freeze or burst in cold enough weather; it just minimizes the risk.
If you have a burst pipe, then it is an emergency that requires immediate action. Have the water turned off so that water doesn’t continue to spew out, and turn on faucets to alleviate the pressure. Then contact professionals for help. You will need to call a plumber to take care of the damaged pipe and get in touch with a water damage restoration professional to handle the water damage.
It is important to have the water damage addressed immediately because of how quickly it can spread and worsen. The water’s presence will also encourage mold growth. Knowing this, do not wait to get help in the aftermath of burst pipes.