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February 18th, 2015

How to Avoid Frozen Pipes During the Finger Lakes Winter

The frigid, harsh conditions of a typical Finger Lakes Winter doesn’t have to result in frozen pipes.  The Drain Brain your septic service provider in Tompkins County, wants you to be prepared with some handy tips to septic services in Ithacahelp you protect your property from water damage and emergency plumbing services in Ithaca.

No one wants to wake in the middle of the night to the sound of water flowing freely from a burst pipe, but if you do…call your local Ithaca plumber for immediate assistance.  While waiting for your plumber to arrive, locate the water turn off valve to the burst/frozen pipe and shut the system down.

If your pipe has not yet burst, you can possibly warm up the pipe carefully and relieve the frozen section.

Septic systems also can freeze up, and with the unusually cold winter we are having, extra steps need to be taken to ensure a functioning system.  If your septic system becomes frozen due to the temperatures, Ithaca septic services can offer you emergency plumbing services through The Drain Brain.

Frozen Pipes – Prevention Tips

The American Red Cross has some awesome information for winter preparedness and how to keep your plumbing functioning optimally during these cold months.

“Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may Ithaca emergency plumbing servicesincur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.  (American Red Cross

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

Frozen Pipes and What to Do

Sometimes, no matter how much you plan or are prepared, pipes freeze and burst, and septic systems freeze up without warning.  If you think your plumbing is in Ithaca septic servicestrouble and you need septic services in Tompkins County, remember that The Drain Brain provides Ithaca septic services on an emergency basis 24/7.

Frozen septic systems can cause a serious back up of contaminated water into your home.  Early signs that your septic may be struggling are slow draining sinks and tubs, gurgling and sluggish flushing of toilets…and as the freeze sinks deeper into the system and pipes, material that is flushed or drained will begin to come back up into your sinks.  Toilets won’t flush.  And some very unpleasant odors are sure to become an issue.

If you are noticing or have experience a lack of water coming from your faucets, this most likely indicates you have frozen pipes and they need immediate attention.  First, open the faucets, then locate the frozen section of your pipes.  Usually you will find that the frozen pipe is one which is either running along a cold outside wall (and not insulated) or under the house in the crawl space or unheated basement.

Once you locate the section of frozen pipes, set about attempting to thaw the section by wrapping with a heating pad, using an electric blow dryer on the area, or a space heater if the area is relatively small and there are no combustible materials nearby.

You will know that your efforts are working as water begins to flow through the pipes again and come out of the faucets you left open.  The Drain Brain recommends that you follow the above preparedness tips once you have relieved the frozen pipe.

Remember that if your pipes have burst or your septic system is frozen, you need professional services.  Call The Drain Brain 24/7 for emergency plumbing services in Ithaca.

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