In a warm climate like Nevada, we don’t often think about pipes freezing like northern states need to do, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect our pipes completely.
Should I Worry About Frozen Pipes?
No, frozen pipes will not be an issue inside your home. But there are areas of Vegas, like the northwest valley, that are above 5,000 feet elevation. In these areas at certain times of the year temperatures can drop to as low as 24 degrees Fahrenheit at night, below freezing. While this still will not cause a problem in most homes because indoor pipes don’t typically freeze until 20 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor pipes can have problems once temperatures drop below freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And anytime pipes freeze it can lead to cracks in your pipes.
Cracks happen when the water expands more than the pipe can contain, which can happen in only 4 hours in 20-degree weather. The pipe damage can be anywhere from a small crack to a full-blown burst pipe. Depending on how much water comes out, and where the break occurs, a busted pipe outside can lead to water damage inside your home as well.
If you notice frozen pipes before a break, they should be thawed right away to prevent any potential damage. If you don’t have experience with this process it’s advised to call a professional. But the best option is to protect them from freezing in the first place.
How to Protect Outdoor Pipes
Because freezing can occur, it is recommended to cover your outdoor pipes with insulation during the winter months. This is an easy solution that can protect your pipes and save you headaches and money in the long run.
Make sure you find the correct insulation type for outdoor settings. The most common type is foam-rubber insulation that is pre-slit for easy coverage. You’ll need to find out which size of pipe you have, but you’ll typically be able to find what you need at a home improvement store or online retailer. Not only will this foam covering insulate against the elements, it can also keep hot pipes hot, and cool pipes cool.
Year-Round Pipe Protection
While some people only insulate their pipes in winter months, this insulation can be used year-round. Keeping your outdoor pipes covered in the summer months blocks the sun’s harmful rays from damaging PVC pipes and causing cracks. If you choose to insulate year-round, be sure to check your insulation each winter to ensure it will still work to protect your pipes from freezing.
Another method to protect your pipes during the summer months is to paint them.
Simply applying a paint formulated for exterior use can protect from the sun in the same way insulation does, but may not need as much maintenance. This is also beneficial if you want your outdoor piping to blend more with the decorative elements of your exterior.
Whether you’re planning to paint PVC or metal pipe, be sure to buff and clean the pipe before applying paint for best adherence to the pipe. One of the easiest ways to cover is to use spray paint, just be sure to use one that is made for your pipe material, and can stand up to the outdoors.
Along with checking your insulation each winter, it’s also a good idea to survey your outdoor pipes for any leaks that could freeze and cause larger cracks. If possible, make sure to turn off any outdoor water lines you won’t be using to prevent any unnecessary problems.
This may also be a good time to make sure you have a system in place for emergency water shut off to the main line, should the need ever arise. This can be as simple as knowing where your main water shut off is located (in the garage or in the ground outside your home), and making sure you have any tools needed to access it. Read more about how to turn your water off in an emergency in our other article.
For a full inspection by a licensed plumber, call Silver State Refrigeration technicians today. Or free to call us with any questions too. We have appointments available anytime of the day or night, including weekends.