How to Avoid Frozen Pipes in Your House

Going south for the winter? Or leaving your rental unattended while you have it on the market? Lots of things can happen while you’re away. You probably haven’t accounted for frozen pipes. Left unattended in the wrong conditions, your pipes could wind up frozen, leaking, or otherwise compromised.

It rarely gets cold enough in Sacramento for water lines to freeze — if your pipes are properly protected, that is. Here is how to avoid frozen pipes in your house.

Protecting Your Home’s Value with Plumbing Upkeep

Does it really get cold enough in Sacramento or Northern California for pipes to freeze? While the freezing temperature of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes usually won’t freeze until it’s about 20 degrees. Insulation and other protections usually keep the water inside your plumbing from turning to ice.

However, there may be some exceptions. To ensure that your pipes don’t freeze during a series of cold nights while you’re away from home during winter:

  1. Make sure you have enough insulation. It’s home insulation that most protects your pipes from feeling the full effects of cold temperatures. If your pipes are in an attic or crawl space without enough nearby insulation, they could be more prone to freezing before the temperature sinks all the way to 20 degrees.
  2. Pay Attention to Outdoor Pipes. Plumbing that runs along the outside of your home is more vulnerable. If water collects in one part of the pipe and it gets super cold, the pipes could freeze.
  3. Keep Water Flowing. If you’re going to be gone for three months, have a trusted neighbor stop by once in a while. Not only can they spot leaks right away, but flushing a few toilets and running hot water in the sink keeps pipes from freezing up.

What Happens if Pipes Freeze?

While it’s unlikely that your pipes would stay frozen for long in Sacramento, there could still be damage to your system if they freeze and unfreeze several times. Here is what you can expect if pipes freeze at your house.

  1. Possible Breaks and Leaks. Water expands when it freezes. Even if your pipes only freeze overnight one time, brittle pipes may not stand up to it. When you have vulnerable, uninsulated pipes on the side of your home — you could come home to a huge leak. If you know you have old, problematic pipes, protect them from the elements before you go out of town this winter.
  2. Blocked Water. Sometimes just enough of the water freezes to cause a blockage in one area. That causes the rest of the water to become blocked from passing through. This could be a nasty surprise to come home to. The blockage could also cause a leak or break if it stays long enough and a powerful toilet flush provides enough resistance.
  3. Major Damage. Believe it or not, even one part of your plumbing becoming frozen could lead to thousands of dollars in damages. Remember that outdoor uninsulated pipe mentioned earlier? Well, if it causes a leak that runs along your home’s foundation — it could do some serious damage. The same goes for a pipe that bursts in the attic. Because you won’t discover it right away if you’ve flown south for a few months, there could be mold by the time you get home. Yikes.

Your Pipes Exploded. Now What?

If you were the unlikely victim of some unexpectedly cold nights and your pipes caused a lot of damage, you have a few choices. You can either fix the issue or decide it’s time to sell your home. If you’re not prepared to clean up after a frozen pipe debacle, a company like California Family Home Buyers may be able to help.

We buy homes in the Sacramento area in all sorts of conditions. We’re not afraid of a plumbing problem! Give us a call today and let’s see if we can help you by buying your home in as-in condition for cash.

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