It’s winter. And it’s cold out — in many parts of the country, anyway.
With winter comes freezing. It’s a phenomenon that occurs routinely. The science of freezing is a fascinating process governed by physical and biological factors that profoundly impact the environment. And freezing can really make a bad situation for your home if the temperature drops low enough.
Just like in your kitchen freezer, water plays a central role in the freezing process in nature. Water freezes at its familiar temperature of 0°C (32°F) under normal atmospheric pressure. However, in essence, variables like altitude, salinity, and the presence of impurities can affect this freezing point, resulting in unique and diverse freezing scenarios.
What it does to your home
1. Burst pipes: Burst pipes are the most common problem associated with freezing. As water freezes inside a pipe, the pressure builds up between the ice blockage and the closed faucet downstream. Eventually, this pressure can cause the pipe to rupture.
2. Cracked fixtures: Plumbing fixtures like faucets, valves, and even the toilet tank can crack when water freezes and expands. These cracks can lead to leaks, reduced water pressure, and the need for costly repairs or replacements.
3. Blockages: Ice can also create blockages within pipes. Even if a pipe doesn't burst, a partial or complete blockage can occur, causing reduced or no water flow through the affected pipe. This can disrupt water supply and drainage systems in your home.
4. Damage to outdoor plumbing: Exterior plumbing components, such as outdoor faucets, hoses, and sprinkler systems, are particularly vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Water left inside these fixtures or pipes during the winter can freeze and cause them to crack or burst when the ice expands.
5. Weakening of pipe material: Repeated freezing and thawing cycles can weaken the structural integrity of pipes over time. This can increase the risk of future leaks and plumbing failures, even if the lines don't burst immediately.
To prevent freezing-related plumbing problems, it's essential to take proactive measures during cold weather, such as insulating pipes, keeping a trickle of water flowing when it is really cold, sealing gaps and cracks, and more. But if something does happen and you have water damage from frozen pipes or other disastrous issues, do the right thing. Call your favorite restoration company. After all, it pays to call a pro!
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