Local contractors say spend a little bit of money now to avoid spending a lot of money in the future.
Scholl Mechanics Owner Paul Scholl III said his company has already had two customers contact them about frozen pipes in their homes, and extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures pose a greater risk to indoor and outdoor plumbing.
“The first thing is that there needs to be no exposed water piping, and anything that is exposed should be insulated,” Scholl said Monday.
He explained that while insulation doesn’t stop heat from escaping the pipes, it does slow the process down.
“The insulation should work for short durations, but when there are extended periods of temperatures below freezing, exposed pipes should be wrapped in a heat tape,” he continued. “Those are available at Lowe’s Hardware and aren’t that expensive.”
Scholl said he’s seen thousands of dollars of damage resulting from pipes freezing and busting in the past. Homeowners have had to replace flooring and sub-flooring.
“Especially when you have overhead piping, like the piping in an attic, it can destroy the ceiling and the flooring,” he said.
Scholl said it is key to make sure all foundation vents are closed to keep the cold air off of those pipes.
“Also, if you leave to go on vacation, never cut your heat off,” he said. “Just turn it down to 55 or 60 degrees - spending that little bit of money on energy bills will be well worth it.”
A&M Contractors of Ellerbe had a crew at a home north of Ellerbe thawing frozen pipes in a well pumphouse Monday morning.
“You can also leave a faucet dripping, that will definitely help,” said A&M Secretary Bonnie Mabe. “If your water comes from a pumphouse, you can set insulation on top of it or you can put a lightbulb in the pumphouse, that will help.”
She also said installing insulation and heating tape around exposed pipes is a good way to avoid having them freeze.
Scholl pointed out that disconnecting any outdoor garden hoses is a good way to avoid a big mess.
“What’ll happen is you’ll get a concealed leak, and that can cause tremendous damage,” he said.
The Web site About.com section on home repairs offers the following advice for avoiding letting pipes freeze:
n Leave the faucet drip slightly as a trickle. The dripping water will keep the water in the pipe from freezing.
n Open kitchen base cabinet and let room air circulate.
n Open kitchen base cabinet and place a small portable heater near or in it to heat the pipes
n Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
n Insulate the problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces.
n Temper the currently unheated crawlspace by placing a heater in the crawlspace. You just need to elevate the crawlspace temperature to modestly above freezing, about 40°F.
If pipes are frozen, but have not yet burst, the Web site suggests homeowners thaw the pipes before they do.
It recommends using a hair dryer, heat lamp, portable heater or heat tape to accomplish this.
“When working on thawing the pipe leave the main water valve open (near your water meter) and remember to heat the pipe from the faucet toward the frozen area,” About.com reads. “This way, the water can flow out as the ice melts and the water pressure in the pipe will force the ice out once it melts sufficiently.”
“The biggest thing is that we know winter’s coming, and we know those pipes can freeze,” Scholl added. “You need to go ahead and do something about it before it happens, and costs you a lot of money.”
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.