Texas homeowners are starting to face the dangerous combination of below-freezing temperatures and rolling blackouts each winter. If it wasn’t hard enough to handle the cold, this combination could lead to a homeowner’s worst nightmare: burst pipes.
If your pipes freeze, they may burst, then leak water across your floors or inside your walls. Winterizing your pipes can help you prevent this water damage and give you one less thing to worry about. Here’s what you need to know about winterizing pipes in Texas and preventing water damage in your home.
How to Winterize Pipes in Texas
Winterizing your pipes is one of the most important ways of protecting your home from freezing temperatures. With the proper preparation, you can reduce the risk that a cold snap causes permanent damage to your property. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, the most important ways to protect your plumbing from freezing temperatures include:
- Let your faucets drip. Moving water is less likely to freeze. Letting your sink and tub faucets drip when the temperatures drop minimizes the time the water spends in freezing temperatures. You can use buckets or plug your tub to collect the water if you are under water use restrictions as long as you are awake to supervise and prevent overflows. If dripping water isn’t possible, run hot water through every faucet for at least one minute before you go to bed.
- Keep the heat on. Cold snaps can put your vacation home’s plumbing at risk if you haven’t turned on the heat. Make sure that your house’s thermostat will remain at 55 degrees at least to prevent unintentional freezes.
- Open plumbing cabinet doors. Even if the heat is on, plumbing cabinets can still get cold. Open the cabinet doors underneath bathroom and kitchen sinks so warm air can circulate around the pipes. This prevents cold water from bringing down the temperature and potentially causing ice to form.
- Insulate pipes in cold areas. If you have plumbing in your attic, garage, or another unheated indoor area, insulate those pipes. Insulation slows the time it takes for water to drop below freezing. This reduces the risk of ice forming as long as you run water regularly.
- Insulate hose spigots. Get insulated covers to prevent cold temperatures from affecting your outdoor faucets. If you don’t have covers, you can wrap the tap in plastic wrap, then gently tape towels around it.
- Protect sprinkler systems. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, drain it as completely as possible before an expected freeze, then insulate the backflow preventer. This will keep your expensive system from getting damaged or causing a leak inside your house.
- Consider turning off your water main. If temperatures are predicted to drop dramatically, or you don’t want to heat an empty home enough to keep the pipes warm, you can turn off the water to your house entirely. Fill up a tub with water for flushing toilets, fill water bottles with drinking water, then turn off the main. Next, open every faucet in your home until water stops coming out to drain your pipes. This removes the risk of frozen pipes entirely.
What to Do If Your Pipes Already Froze
The best way to tell if your pipes have frozen is by checking your faucets. Frozen pipes will keep water from reaching the tap, so you’ll turn it on, and nothing will happen. You may identify where the ice has formed by testing different faucets. For example, if all the faucets in your kitchen work, but no water reaches your bathroom, ice has most likely formed in the pipe leading to that bathroom.
If your pipes have frozen, you have an immediate emergency on your hands. Regardless of whether you see a leak, immediately turn off your water main. You may not realize your pipes have burst until the ice starts to thaw because the ice is plugging the crack. Turning off the main will minimize the risk of water damage whether or not your pipes are damaged.
Next, use a space heater or hair dryer to warm the area that’s frozen. Start closest to the faucet that isn’t working, and make sure that the faucet is wide open. The frozen pipe will likely be extremely cold to the touch and have frost forming on the outside. That’s where you should focus the majority of your attention. Once the pipe has begun to thaw, you’ll hear water rushing from the faucet.
Don’t stop there, though. Keep a space heater, heat lamp, or another source of safe warmth near the pipe for at least 24 hours. This ensures the line is fully thawed and prevents it from freezing again.
Responding to Emergency Burst Pipes
If you notice a leak, turn off your water main and call an emergency plumber immediately. Once the plumber arrives, they will replace the pipe, identify if any other plumbing in the house is at risk, and help you protect your home from damage.
In the meantime, take pictures of the leak and anything that has gotten wet. This includes the walls, floor, and potentially the ceiling of the room below if it was a second-floor room. After you’ve documented the leak, dry up as much water as possible. Then notify your insurance company of the incident and begin filing your burst pipe insurance claim.
Get Help With Your Burst Pipes Insurance Claim
If your pipes have already burst, your home insurance policy provider is most likely responsible for covering part or all of the repair costs. However, you may struggle to get your insurance company to honor your policy. If your insurer has underpaid or denied your water damage or burst pipes claim, the Professional Law Group is here to help. We will work with you to support your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to help you receive the full compensation you need to repair your home. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you get your home repaired after frozen and burst pipes cause water damage.