Colder temperatures in the winter come with multiple problems. Apart from worrying about your HVAC system providing you with sufficient heating, home owners also need to ensure water pipes do not freeze and burst.
This is a potential issue and can lead to big leaks, elaborate plumbing repairs, and high expenses.
If water pipes burst when the family is away or when the house is closed for a long time, the leaked water can spoil walls, furniture, linen, and even cause the growth of mold. Unchecked leakage can cause extensive water wastage and flooding too.
Identifying pipes that may freeze
The first step in minimizing the risk of water pipes freezing in winter is to identify the pipes that could freeze. Not all pipes will freeze. Generally, the ones that are insulated or inside insulated areas of the house will not freeze.
But pipes exposed to the outdoors, or those in unheated parts of the house like basements, attics, or crawl spaces could freeze quickly even if the Bay Area is not Alaska. Once you know which pipes need to be taken care of, you can invest in insulation.
How to keep water pipes from freezing?
1. Insulate using pipe foam
In most cold regions, Foam Pipe Insulation is available in local hardware stores. All you need to do is to buy the appropriate length of foam insulation and follow the installation instructions. This is an easy and inexpensive way to insulate water pipes and keep them from freezing.
2. Use heating cable or heat tape to wrap pipes
Heating cable or heat tape are electrically powered heating strips that can be wrapped around water pipes to keep them warm and prevent freezing.
While heating cable is not as flexible as heating tape, it can be cut to a specific length depending upon the length of the pipes you need to insulate. Heating cables are available in two types: ones that operate at a constant temperature or ones that self-regulate temperature.
Heat tape operates at a constant temperature and hence needs a temperature controller to be used with it. It is also of only fixed lengths.
3. Utilize heating pads
Although heating pads can only be used for small areas like the entry point of an external pipe into the house or an area below the sink, they are convenient when it is very cold.
You can wrap a heating pad around the pipe that needs to be kept warm and secure it with a string. You will have to keep it on the medium to low setting and check it from time to time. Do not forget to switch it off once temperatures rise.
4. Keep cabinet doors open
Any cabinet doors that conceal pipes can be left open, like those in the bathroom or in the kitchen. The heated air in the house will keep the pipes warm enough so that they do not freeze. But do not leave doors to attics or basements open, as all the hot air from inside your home will escape to the unheated rooms.