Home & Garden

How to Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter


KENILWORTH, NJ - As it begins to get colder in New Jersey and winter is settling in, frozen pipes become a frequent occurrence. According to PuroClean franchisee and owner of the Kenilworth location, Robin Hoy, who is a Cranford resident, many families suffered from bad situations last winter. She added, "A couple of homes were so badly damaged that water was discovered streaming out the front door by the mailman or neighbors."   

PuroClean is a fire and water damage restoration company, as well as a mold and mildew removal company, who offers both residential and commercial property cleanup services. Hoy and her team see a lot of property damage when the winter weather sets in.

Hoy helps explain why water is a unique substance. "When water cools, its density increases and it settles to the bottom of a container. However, at 32º F, it expands and, therefore, its density decreases, this is why ice floats. This expansion increases the volume of water by about 11% and creates tremendous pressure on its container (between 50,000 and 114,000 psi). No matter the strength of a material, expanding water will cause it to break." 

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Therefore, pipes are especially vulnerable to damage and those things usually directly exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, or sprinkler lines. In addition, pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and kitchen cabinets are also vulnerable, not to mention, those pipes that also run against exterior walls with little or no insulation.

Hoy adds, "Rust or corrosion weakens pipes, making leaks more likely to occur. When freeze-expansion occurs, corroded pipes will often split open. When thawing begins damage can occur."

To prevent frozen pipes, Hoy offers the following recommendations:

  • Seal cracks: Caulk around doors, windows, and around pipes where they enter the house to reduce incoming cold.
  • Protect outdoor pipes and faucets: In some homes, the outside faucet has its own shut-off in the basement as well as the shut-off separate valves, close the valve, remove hoses and drain the faucet.
  • Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms: Water lines supplying these rooms are often on outside walls. Any air leaks in siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving the doors open allows them to get more heat.
  • When vacationing, do not turn off your heat.  It may save on your electric/gas bill, but cause other problems in your home.  Lowering the heat is fine, but remember to leave cabinet doors open. 
  • Insulate water lines that are in uninsulated basements or crawlspaces. Adding insulation to these areas would help even more.




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