Across eastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin, we average about two and a half feet of snow per year. While the beautiful white drifts create wonderful photo opportunities, the freezing temperatures can create dangerous conditions for your Cedar Rapids home. Frozen pipes can lead to leaky pipes and severe water damage.
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. Expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including copper, iron or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of the material, expanding water can cause pipes to break.
Freezing frequently are those pipes exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines. We at Challis know that pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are at high risk. Also vulnerable are water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
Frozen pipes seldom cause damage. It is thawing pipes that do. Not all freezing pipes burst, but when one does, the water expands when it freezes, adding considerable pressure on unyielding plumbing pipes. That pressure can cause a tiny leak at a joint or crack on a length of pipe, unleashing the full flow of water inside your home.
Before doing anything, you must shut off the water supply to that section of plumbing (or the entire house if that’s the only option) because the real trouble begins after the thaw. That’s because the frozen water may be acting as a plug, preventing water from spilling out of the cracks in your pipes. When that plug is thawed, water gushes out. It’s a good idea to be ready with a mop, bucket, and towels in case there’s a plumbing leak. Or call Challis to handle the problem for you.
Here are some tips for unfreezing pipes, according to the Red Cross.
Not only should homeowners know where the main shut-off valve is located, they should have it inspected the next time Challis or a plumber is on site. If your home has an older gate-style valve, it might be worth the money ($200 to $400) to have it replaced with a more reliable ball valve. Once a year, rotate them back and forth to prevent sticking.
The team at Challis Restoration in Cedar Rapids understands the restoration and recovery process – from first-aid measures and emergency response to technical services and total reconstruction. If you have any questions regarding water damage cleanup, storm damage restoration, sewage damage repair, or flooding cleanup, please contact us.