February is one of the coldest months of the year in Colorado, and Josh Ward, owner of Applewood Plumbing Heating and Electric, urges Jeffco residents to continue checking their pipes for damage.
According to the National Weather Service, the coldest days in Denver metro weather history occur in December, January and February.
“With an average winter temperature of 32.7 degrees in Denver, pipes are at higher risk of freezing and at increased risk of bursting,” Ward said. “When low temperatures in the teens are expected for an extended period of time, pipes are more susceptible to freezing. Once frozen, the volume of the water increases by 9%. If this happens in a closed pipe, the pressure increases and the pipe bursts. The pipes most likely to freeze are in unheated areas such as attics, crawl spaces and along exterior walls.”
Ward warns that a cold-damaged pipe can lead to bigger problems and more damage to the home.
“Water damage from a burst pipe can lead to problems such as destroyed electrical systems, corroded plumbing, mold growth and destroyed ceilings and walls,” he said.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent, detect, and quickly treat the pipes to minimize damage until the professionals arrive.
Ward and his team at Applewood Plumbing Heating and Electric recommend the following measures to protect pipes in cold weather:
- Set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees. Keep the temperature constant both during the day and at night.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas. This can also reduce heat losses and make hot water preparation more efficient.
- Seal any air leaks. Using caulk or plaster can prevent cold air from entering the wall space. These leaks most commonly occur near pipes or electrical work.
- Drain warm water. The best time to do this is at night as this will maintain water flow and prevent overnight freezing.
- Open cabinets under sinks or vanities. This exposes the pipes to warm air.
When pipes burst, the pressure of the frozen water is actually strong enough to split metal. The break in the photo was due to a frozen pipe. Credit: Photo courtesy of Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric
To determine if a pipe is frozen, you need to look for a few signs, such as: E.g. icy spots or frost on exposed pipes, weak or no water flow, unwanted smell from a drain or faucet, and strange noises from the pipes.
If a pipe bursts, follow these steps to reduce water damage:
- Immediately close the main faucet. This is where the water supply enters your home.
- Find the pipe. If it's not obvious, look under sinks and in colder areas of the house.
- Relieve any pressure. Open the faucet that is connected to the pipe.
- Call a plumber. If water or ice is leaking from the pipe, it's best to call professional help.
Winter isn't quite over yet. So take these steps to ensure your pipes and home stay intact until spring. For information about frozen pipes and home repairs, visit ApplewoodFixIt.com.