Winter time can be a very difficult period for property managers and landlords.
They have to deal with the snow, higher utility costs, fading of exterior walls, and so much more.
One of the most important things that property managers have to look out for, however, are frozen pipes.
A frozen pipe can cause many problems, especially when left unattended.
In this guide, we will be explaining the complete process of how to deal with frozen pipes.
To begin, let's go over what causes pipes to freeze and why it's so dangerous.
Why Do Pipes Freeze?
During the winter, pipes within a home are particularly prone to freezing. This is especially true for pipes that are located within unheated areas, like basements, garages, and attics.
There are many other factors that make your pipes more vulnerable to freezing, which we have described below.
Everybody knows that water freezes at lower temperatures, but for water inside pipes to freeze, the temperature has to dip well below freezing temperature. Water pipes freeze when the temperature outside is around 20 degrees or lower.
As we briefly mentioned before, pipes located in unheated areas of the home or in the exterior walls, like water supply pipes, are far more prone to heating. Frozen pipes in these locations are especially vulnerable to becoming burst pipes, especially if they're exposed pipes.
Lack Of Insulation
Although insulation in your home has many benefits, one of the most important ones is preventing freezing pipes.
All of these factors, especially when combined, make your home's water pipes extremely susceptible to even freeze overnight.
So, now that we know all about what causes pipes to freeze, let's find out how to prevent such a thing from happening.
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
Although you can't control the weather, you can take steps to make sure that your pipes are well protected against harsh conditions. In this section, we will be listing some of the most important steps that you can take to prevent frozen pipes in your property.
Insulating the pipes in your home is the best way to prevent frozen water pipes. This is because exposed pipes are the most vulnerable to freezing and eventually bursting.
Adding insulation to your home's pipes has a long list of benefits, other than helping prevent frozen pipes. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced utility costs
- Condensation control
- Sound control
However, insulating your pipes may be a costly project, especially depending on your geographic location. The cost of installing insulation varies from $110 to $1,100 per linear foot, but if it is done without contracting a professional, the price is significantly lower.
Using Heat Tape
Heat tape, also called thermostatically controlled heat tape, can be used to wrap pipes and control their temperature. Each tape has different specifications and is typically meant for a specific type of pipe, like interior or exterior.
Heat tape can even be applied to help to thaw frozen pipes. This can be extremely useful if a pipe freezes and you have to fix them.
Leaky pipes can quickly lead to frozen pipes if they are not quickly taken care of. This is because a leak in a pipe will allow cold air to go inside and make it much easier for the pipe to freeze.
This can be solved by using caulk or a special type of insulation to seal the leak and make sure that cold air cannot get inside. Doing this is one of the best ways to prevent pipes from freezing and keep them nice and warm.
Securing Exterior Water Supply Lines
Before winter time begins, it is best to secure outdoor hose bibs and use a indoor valve to shut off or drain water pipes. This greatly reduces the chances of a pipe freezing and bursting in the interior section of the property.
Now we know all about the different ways to prevent frozen pipes on a property. But, what happens if it's too late?
In the next section, we will be discussing some of the ways to fix frozen pipes on a rental property and to minimize the property damage.
How To Fix Frozen Pipes
Even if every single precaution is taken against frozen pipes, they still happen.
Luckily, there are many ways to fix frozen pipes without causing any more damage to the property. Below, we have outlined some of the best ways to fix frozen pipes in a rental property.
Keeping The Faucet Open
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it is actually best to keep water running when dealing with frozen pipes. This is because, in the thawing process, a lot of steam and water is going to be released, and it needs to be discharged somewhere.
If the water is closed, it might cause the metal or plastic pipes to burst from having too much accumulated water and steam. And if a pipe bursts, you've got much bigger problems on your hands.
One great way to thaw frozen pipes is by applying heat to the frozen section of the pipe. One of the most common ways to do this is by using an electric heating cable or heating pad.
Another easy way to thaw pipes is by using a handheld hair dryer or a typical space heater. If you have none of these items on hand, you can also pour hot water on the pipes or wrap them with a hot towel.
Some things that you should never use on frozen pipes include a blowtorch, propane torch, kerosene heater, or any other open flame device. This can become a serious fire risk and open the door to many other problems.
You should continue applying heat to the pipe until the normal water flow is restored. If this does not happen after some time, it may be time to call a professional.
Calling A Professional
If none of the methods mentioned above work, it may be best to call a professional plumber or contractor. This is especially true for pipes that are located in the exterior wall and require drilling to get to.
This is also the best method in the case of a burst pipe. Fixing a burst pipe is no easy task on your own and is definitely a task better suited for a professional. However, in the case of burst pipes, you can help mediate the process by drying up as much of the water as possible and trying to make sure that it does not cause any severe property damage.
Frozen pipes can potentially cost property managers or landlords tons of money in repairs. This is why it is so important to do preventative maintenance whenever and wherever possible on your rental properties.