The issue of frozen pipes is all-too-common during winter for both homeowners and plumbers. As well as bursting and leaking, a pipe that has frozen can cause serious damage to walls, floors, ceilings, and your personal belongings. Even if you have the relevant insurance to cover this kind of damage and repairs, the extent of this problem can be huge. Ask anyone who has experienced it before, and they will tell you just how stressful their experience was of having a frozen pipe fixed and/or replaced. Therefore, it goes without saying and makes complete sense that the best way to solve the issue of frozen pipes is to make sure it never happens.
How can this be done? The best way, by far, to stop pipes from freezing up during winter is by investing in insulation. The most common varieties of insulation for pipework is foam, electric heating tape and fibreglass. If you decide to invest in insulation though, you need to make sure you have it installed properly before the first signs of winter.
If you go down the route of incorporating electric heating tape in your pipework insulation you need to wind it around the full length of the piping following a spiral-style pattern. Once you have applied it, you should have an effective enough insulation that will help the pipes and stop them from freezing over. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when spacing out the distance between coils of tape.
If your piping is found in just one area, you may need to invest in a heat lamp to warm that part of the property. Once you have coated the piping in the special tape, you need to then cover it in either foam rubber or fibreglass. Make sure you remember to cover all the exposes lengths and joints of the piping with the insulation of your choice. Remember to invest in insulation cuts that are slightly larger than the pipe’s size to allow enough room for the tape too.
If the area where you live is not prone to temperatures that drop especially low, you may be able to get away with just using either the foam rubber or fibreglass insulation on its own without the tape.
Extra Preventative Measures
To further protect your pipes, you need to take appropriate measures such as sealing and insulating any cracks and openings that might allow cold air to get into your home, particularly around windows and in the attic.
If you are stuck choosing between the two, it is generally thought that fibreglass is the most effective of the two insulators, though foam rubber has the distinct advantage of being slightly easier to use and install. Fibreglass is most effective when paired with the heating tape. Although you may want to consider carrying out the work yourself, as it’s a specialised task it’s always best leaving it to a professional.
In addition to investing in pipe insulation, one of the best ways to prevent pipes freezing up is to ensure that your water supply runs regularly. That means you should use white goods and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers as much as you can. Whereas, if you are going to be out of the house for a long period of time, it may be best to drain the water completely from your pipework. Whatever you plan to do or if you are unsure, talk to a plumber about your options.