Are Your Baldwin County Pipes Going to Freeze? 20°F

Posted by Super Admin on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at 12:17pm.

Every winter I often wonder if our vacant homes will have issues due to an extreme cold day along our coast. Let's face it I live in Gulf Shores and we are not exactly use to thinking about pipes freezing. This year we are even trying to understand snow in Gulf Shores! I recently found a great outline on this topic at Weather.com. Below is what I learned. I hope this helps you as well.

When is it Cold Enough to Freeze?

It seems that the magic number is 20°F. The article states that the onset of freezing occurs when the outside tempatures fall below 20°F.

Below is a quote from the article:

"This finding was supported by a survey of 71 plumbers practicing in southern states, in which the consensus was that burst-pipe problems began to appear when temperatures fell into the teens. However, freezing incidents can occur when the temperature remains above 20° F. Pipes exposed to cold air (especially flowing air, as on a windy day) because of cracks in an outside wall or lack of insulation are vulnerable to freezing at temperatures above the threshold. However, the 20°F temperature alert threshold should address the majority of potential burst-pipe incidents in southern states."

This brings us to the next question... Is dripping a water faucet enough?

The article says that dripping a faucet during these extreme temperatures will help. They suggest a little more then a drip. This provides relief from excessive pressure that can build up when freezing occurs.

Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It's not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow.

"A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief."

So what about a vacant home or if you plan on going on a trip...

When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe, freeze and burst.

A solution is to drain the water system. This is the best safeguard. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. This remedy should be considered even when the homeowner is not leaving but is concerned about a serious overnight freeze.

To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running. It's not necessary to leave the fixtures open, since the system is filled mostly with air at that point and not subject to freezing. When returning to the house, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again.

Source: Institute for Business and Home Safety. IBHS is a national nonprofit initiative of the insurance industry to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by natural disasters. 

 

http://www.weather.com/activities/homeandgarden/home/hometips/severeweather/pipefreeze_prevent.html

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