There are several simple steps Kingwood homeowners can take to protect their pipes from freezing weather. It may not freeze often in the greater Houston area, but when it does freeze, Kingwood residents may need to take extra care in protecting their plumbing. Kingwood homes are built to withstand the intense, humid summers the area is familiar with, which means many of those homes are vulnerable to freezing temperatures. For example, Kingwood homes may have plumbing routed through uninsulated areas, which means they are exposed to the cold.
A burst pipe is an emergency, but it’s an easy one to avoid. There are simple steps that every Kingwood homeowner can take to keep their pipes safe from the cold. They include:
Get a professional plumbing inspection
The home’s plumbing should be checked at least every two years, and more often in older houses and houses near mature trees. During an inspection, the plumber will uncover any vulnerable pipes and pipes that are experiencing failure. Even if the chances of a frozen pipe are relatively low, an expert inspection will also uncover leaks and water damage, both of which can become an expensive problem if not immediately dealt with.
Keep the tap running at a drip
Moving water doesn’t freeze as readily as standing water, so when temperatures drop below freezing, keep the tap open, at least at a drip. If you’re wondering why moving water resists freezing, consider a rushing river, which doesn’t freeze throughout because there’s enough kinetic energy to keep the water from solidifying into ice.
Make sure the tap is fed by pipes considered high risk for freezing. Even if there is some freezing in the pipe, keeping the tap open will reduce pressure and the chances of the pipe bursting.
Know where the shutoff valves are
If the worst does happen or if there are pipes in imminent danger of freezing, shutting off the water may help. In most houses, there are two options for immediate shutoff. One is the main valve, which is usually located close to an exterior wall, near a faucet. It may also be located in the utility room.
The other option is to shut the water off at the meter. A water meter key will be needed to do this, but they are available at most hardware stores. Have one on hand and locate the main shutoff valve before the temperature drops.
Add insulation to vulnerable pipes
If there are any pipes routed through uninsulated areas, consider adding pipe insulation where needed. Pipe insulation is cheap and comes in several forms, including foam tubing. It’s available in an array of thicknesses and is sized for different pipe widths, so there are plenty of options for homeowners.
Foam tubing is usually enough for the Houston and Kingwood climates, but for the rare hard freeze, heat cables are an option. Heat cables are attached to the pipe length and once they are plugged in, they generate enough heat to prevent freezing. Again, foam tubing is often enough in most Kingwood homes, but a plumbing expert can confirm this for a homeowner.
Keep the cabinets open and the garage closed
Unprotected pipes typically route through the garage and through cabinets. You can protect these pipes from freezing by leaving the garage closed and opening cabinets. This will block much of the cold air from getting in and will help warm air circulate around the pipes.
Drain the pipes if you’re going to be away
If you aren’t going to be using your home’s plumbing for an extended stretch, drain the pipes before leaving. To do so, shut off the water using the main valve and run the taps until they stop. Even if the weather turns bitter while you’re gone, the pipes won’t be affected.
How much does a burst pipe cost a homeowner?
When pipes freeze, they are at risk of bursting, and a burst pipe is one of the most expensive disasters that can happen in a home. According to State Farm Insurance, the average claim for a burst pipe is around $15,000, and homeowner’s insurance will likely only cover a portion.
Even if the pipe doesn’t burst, though, freezing can give rise to leaks that may go undetected for months or years. That will cost the homeowner quite a bit, too, so avoiding a frozen pipe situation is the best approach.
Burst pipes can and do happen in Kingwood
This is a particular problem in older homes (primarily those built before 1960), where insulation placement is often suboptimal. If the insulation hasn’t been inspected in a while, there may be leaks or gaps that could increase the chances of a frozen pipe. A thorough inspection of the home can help locate these leaks, especially if the inspection is handled by a trained professional.
Burst pipes are bad news, even in climates where freezes are uncommon. An expert plumber can help homeowners avoid this with a detailed inspection, and with some simple preventative steps, homeowners can guard their plumbing from an expensive outcome.