As a deep freeze takes hold of the Chicago area (a bit early this year), here are some tips to avoid damage to your home from frozen pipes – and what to do if you are too late.
Make sure everyone in the household knows where the shut-off valves are located and how to turn them off.
If there is an indication that a water pipe is frozen or partially frozen in your home, turn off the water supply immediately!
Why Frozen Pipes Are a Problem
Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts extreme pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor water faucets, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.
In the U.S., frozen pipes cause significant damage every year, but they often can be prevented. Taking a few simple steps, even now, may save you the aggravation and expense.
There are three common causes of frozen pipes:
1. Quick drops in temperature.
2. Poor insulation.
3. Thermostats set too low.
Luckily, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to keep your pipes from freezing:
If Your Pipes Do Freeze…
• If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
• If your house or basement is flooding, turn off the water valve and immediately call 911.
• Do not touch or use electrical appliances in areas of standing water due to electrocution concerns.
• Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Every year, many building fires are caused by people trying to thaw frozen pipes. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
• You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
• Again, if your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on and call 911. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it. Likely places for the water turn-off valve include internal pipes running against exterior walls or where water service enters a home through the foundation.
• If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.
Our best wishes to you and your families for a warm, wonderful holiday season, and a happy and prosperous new year! Check back often for information and pictures of our projects in Glenview, Lake Forest, Winnetka, Arlington Heights, and Barrington.
Contact Smart Builders if you are considering building a new home or have a new construction project in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs or Chicago’s North Shore neighborhoods.
SMART Builders, Incorporated |
11 W. College Drive, Unit J |
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
P: 847.577.2900 | F: 847.939.1453
SMART Builders specializes in New Construction Custom Home Building and Remodeling in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs, Chicago North Shore, Illinois, Arlington Heights, Barrington, Burr Ridge, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Hinsdale, Inverness, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Mount Prospect, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Village of Golf, Wilmette, Winnetka, and throughout Chicago, Illinois.
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