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Serving the Olympia, WA area since 1994



What Causes a Pipe to Freeze?

Monday, November 11th, 2013 at 5:09 pm

It’s one the great nemesis that your plumbing faces during a particularly cold winter in Washington, State: frozen pipes. Not only do frozen pipes block up the flow of water, but they can easily cause pipes to break and shatter because ice takes up more volume than liquid water. Although Washington has less harsh winters than other northern states, it only takes a few days of below freezing temperature to give your pipes serious grief.

If you have emergencies from frozen pipes, or from any other trouble that winter can throw at you at your plumbing, you need a company with a reputation for professionalism and quality work to take care of the repairs. Brooks Plumbing is ready to help you with professional plumbing services in Tumwater, WA.

The temperature at which pipes are in danger of freezing varies, but field tests from the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois put the average alert temperature at 20°F or below. Water resting inside pipes will start to freeze at this point. (For this reason, we suggest occasionally running water through faucets that don’t receive much use, since water flow helps ward off freezing.)

In Washington State, most of our plumbing is inside our homes instead of outside them, so they are less susceptible to freezing during cold weather. But if there are insulation leaks in your home, especially in areas that contain exposed pipes like the basement, then temperature drops will put your plumbing at risk. One of the first steps to take to see that your pipes don’t freeze is to take care of major heat leaks in your home. Cold air will also escape through holes in walls where cables and phone lines go to the outside: watch for trouble with pipes in these areas.

Pipes with poor insulation are particularly in danger from freezing. Exposed pipes should have effective insulation, such as sleeves, to keep heat from escaping from them and causing the water inside to freeze. There are also options for electric heating from cables along pipes, but you should never attempt to install this yourself. In general, when it comes to pipe insulation, leave the job to professional plumbers.

If you think you have piping in your home that is in danger of freezing during the coming winter, don’t wait to find it out on the coldest day of the year: contact Brooks Plumbing for expert advice on how to protect your plumbing in Tumwater, WA. We can locate where your pipes might be in danger and find solutions that will keep the water flowing through them the whole winter.

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