How to keep pipes from freezing

Frozen pipe burst

​Any plumbing issue can be dangerous, and you need emergency plumbers when they happen. Winter is here, and frozen pipes are going to be causing a lot of expensive plumbing emergencies throughout South Carolina. But our customers can rest easy, because our expert plumbers are available for effective prevention and fast, quality repair, even in the middle of the night.

Of course, they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that is certainly true when it comes to the possibility of frozen pipes. If you want to avoid costly repairs, follow our advice for preventing and dealing with frozen pipes.

plumber repair service Kay pluming South Carolina

What temperature do pipes freeze?

Anyone new to South Carolina might be surprised to learn that frozen pipes can still be a problem. Even though the South has a warmer climate than other states, the temps do occasionally drop low enough for pipes to freeze. If that happens, you’ll be looking at some expensive damages if you don’t take some precautions.

What temperature does water freeze?

Water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But the temperature at which most South Carolina pipes freeze is much different. First, consider that part of South Carolina’s climate is humidity, and the humidity in South Carolina causes the temps to feel even colder, not just to you but to your home.

The warmer climate also means that Columbia homes don’t have insulation around their pipes, and they don’t have automatic shut offs if a pipe bursts from freezing. But, if Columbia area temps drop to that sweet spot of 28 degrees or below, pipes are likely to freeze. It is best to know what to do ahead of time so that you are prepared. Even though it is less likely for our area to see temps that cold, it is definitely in the realm of possibility.

Does water expand when frozen?

Yes! Water expands when frozen. It can cause all kinds of issues, from breaking up your concrete driveway to bursting your pipes in your crawlspace. When the water freezes in your pipes, it will expand and cause the pipe to break. A single pipe can burst, or you could have cracking pipes. In either case, you’ll need an emergency plumber.

What temp should I keep my home to prevent frozen pipes?

There isn’t a magic temperature to keep your pipes from freezing. How likely your pipes are to freeze depends on a lot of factors, including if the bulk of your plumbing is in the crawl space, and if so how insulated that space is. Usually though, as long as you keep the water flowing in the house, the pipes under the house will be fine. Ideally, you should keep your home’s temperature above 55 degrees to prevent freezing pipes.

Clogged sink

What can you do to prevent pipes from freezing?

We are a full service plumber, and that means we offer plumbing maintenance agreements for our residential customers. We want you to avoid expensive repairs, so as part of that maintenance, we can suggest preparations or repairs to your plumbing in preparation for winter.

In addition, here are our best tips to keep your pipes from freezing during cold snaps in South Carolina:

  • Open up the cabinets that hide your plumbing in the kitchen and bathrooms so warm air can circulate.
  • Allow your faucets to trickle overnight to keep water moving through the pipes.
  • Increase the temperature of your home to accommodate the colder temps where your plumbing is located.

Before a cold snap happens, you can take these preventative measures ahead of time:

  • Talk to attic or crawl space contractors to better insulate the area most of our plumbing is located.
  • Have a professional plumber inspect your plumbing, including shut off valves and pressure release valves. If your home doesn’t have these valves or you don’t know where they are located, contact us to have them installed for your safety.
  • Check your pipes carefully before and after cold weather, and call a plumber for a more thorough plumbing inspection if you aren’t sure about the stability of your plumbing system.

What to do when your pipes freeze

Sometimes no matter what precautions you take, your pipes could still freeze under the right conditions. Even if you have signs of a major pipe burst or break, you don’t need to panic. Take these simple steps, and wait for our plumbers to arrive, any time day or night.

  1. Turn off the water shut off valve, cutting off the flow of water to the entire home at the source (If you don’t know where your main water shut off valve is, talk to your utility company, but you really shouldn’t wait for an emergency to find out.)
  2. Open a faucet to relieve the remaining pressure in the plumbing system. This should stop the flow of water into your home or crawlspace.
  3. Call our 24 hour emergency plumbers for repairs.

If you start to hear pipes cracking, you might be able to head off water damage by immediately turning off the water at the main shut off valve, turning on a faucet, and applying heat or insulation to the frozen pipes. You’ll still want to have one of our plumbers look it over the next day to make sure none of the pipes were too badly weakened by the pressure.

Yes pipes freeze in the south

If you are new to the area, you might not realize that you need to worry about freezing pipes in the South. But, the colder winter temps combined with the Southern humidity does lead to freezing. Pipes are more likely to freeze if:

  • They are less insulated, such as in a crawl space with inadequate insulation
  • Humidity or precipitation is high, causing temperatures to feel colder than they are (if it is colder to you, it is colder to your pipes)

If you don’t take measures to prevent frozen pipes, it could lead to some very costly repairs. Not only do you face expensive plumbing repairs, you are also looking at water damage and other associated costs. In all, the average cost of insurance claim for water damage and freezing is over $10,000 per incident.

The best way to keep your pipes from freezing is to prepare in advance. Even though temperatures have started to drop, you still have time to squeeze in a plumbing inspection, pressure release valve installation, or getting assistance in preventing breaking pipes. Contact us today to learn more about our local Columbia plumbing services.


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