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Frozen Pipe Disaster!

Every winter season, the pipes in your home are at risk of damage from freezing conditions. Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The following tips can help you safeguard your home before, during and after a pipe freezes.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

  • Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.

  • Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you're leaving the house for an extended period of time.

  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.

  • Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)

  • Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.

  • Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.

  • Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.

  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.

  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.

  • Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing. (See note below for well water systems)

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.

  • Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.

  • Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces. (These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions).

  • Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes.

If a Pipe Freezes

  • If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)

  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.

  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.

If a Pipe Bursts

  • Shut off water at the main valve.

  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.

  • Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.

Great Information from an awesome Well Company:

Dripping water with a well system can be detrimental depending on the type of system. The two types of systems typically found in residential well systems are a traditional cap start cap run with a large pressure tank, or a constant pressure system with a variable frequency drive (VFD). There are downfalls with both systems, as far as trickling water.

With a traditional pumping system, I would advise against dripping water through a faucet as the well pump doesn't run constantly, therefore the idea does nothing more than cycle the well pump more often than necessary. Starts and stops are a major determining factor in a submersible pump's lifespan. Because they start from 0(zero) to 3450 RPM in a split second and stop in the same manner, starts and stops effectively kill the motor and pump mechanically. This is why a large pressure tank is necessary to limit the number of starts and stops in a 24 hour period. The maximum number of starts in a 24 hour period for a traditional system is 100.

Conversely, with a constant pressure system utilizing a VFD, the well pump will cycle more frequently but not as harshly due to the VFD that controls the speed of the pump. With this style of system you may decrease the possibility of freezing but the long term side effects are still the issue of cycling the well pump more often than necessary. The Maximum number of starts for a constant pressure system is 300.

Where we typically see freezing, are in three locations; in a well pit, just inside the utility room, and at the pitless adapter. With a well pit we strongly suggest the pit have a heater of some sort in it, we suggest something thermostatically controlled and also designed to dry the air in the area it is heating. Inside the utility room, cold air returns may be located near the plumbing and pressure tank. We see all too often instances in which the pressure switch is frozen due to the cold air return. Freezing at the pitless adapter is very common and requires either gently heating the air at the top of the well itself and waiting, or a service crew to unthaw the frozen pipes.

I hope this helps you out and wasn't too long winded.

-- Kevin PersonHier Drilling Company 303.688.3012

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