No matter how warm your area is during the summer or how moderate your winters are, freezes occur almost everywhere. A winter freeze in a normally warm climate can devastate a landscape, hinder transportation and bust water pipes that can do thousands of dollars of damage to a home in less than an hour. When water freezes it expands. When this happens in a pipe, the pipe frequently splits.
Repairing a busted water pipe could be as inexpensive as a few dollars if you know how to solder or thread, and as expensive as $125 if you hire a plumber to do the job. And an emergency repair can be twice as expensive. But in many cases, fixing the hole in a broken water pipe isn't the part of the repair that costs the most. A home flooded with water can cost thousands of dollars to restore to its original condition. Replacing hardwood flooring, furniture, wallboard and other expensive finishes is where the cost is highest.
All you have to do is take a few simple precautions to reduce the chance of serious damage.
First, moving water doesn't freeze. Snow country folks know that a faucet left dripping will prevent a burst. And in places where water is in short supply, the precious liquid can be collected into a container and then be put to good use later.
So, it makes good wintertime sense to not only think about the possibility of a pipe bursting, but to do something about preventing it as well.
If dripping water seems like a preposterous resolve, then look into the cost of adding pipe insulation. And it is especially important to protect exposed pipes outside as well as under the house and in the attic.
In colder climates it's also wise to look into low voltage pipe warmers. Here, a transformer is plugged into a regular 110-volt receptacle and a wire from the transformer is wrapped around exposed water supply lines.
Also, there are a few items you'll want to have on hand that will help reduce major damage in the event that a pipe does burst.
Here's what you'll need:
A 4-inch or 5-inch length of rubber hose the dishwasher drain hose type. You may need more than one piece depending on how many different sizes of water line exist in your home. The rubber hose should have an inside diameter approximately equal to the outside diameter of the water pipe it will be used on.
Two universal hose clamps (the type that use a screw to be loosened or tightened).
A tool to cut the water pipe (a hacksaw or a pipe cutter). If a burst occurs, the items we've just mentioned can be used to make a temporary emergency repair.
First, turn off the main water valve. Next, cut out the split piece of pipe on both sides and then clamp the rubber hose around each end of the remaining pipes. Turn the main water valve back on and make sure to leave a faucet dripping somewhere in the house to reduce the chance of another freeze-up.
Finally, if you aren't able to make a permanent repair yourself, wait a week or two before you call a plumber. The cost for the fix will be less once the emergency is over. And even though the clamped hose is a temporary measure, it will ensure a water supply to your home until a permanent repair can be made.