How to Protect Your Building Pipes

How to Protect Your Building Pipes

Posted by Access Doors and Panels on 22nd Jul 2020

How to Protect Your Building Pipes

As the winter season sets in, it's time for you to think about protecting your pipes from the cold elements. The harsh winter weather can cause your plumbing pipes to freeze and, worse, can burst and cause flooding and costly water damage to your building. Taking preventive measures will help reduce and eliminate the risk of damaged pipes.

Before we continue with the ways you can protect your building pipes, you first need to know the pipes that are more prone to freezing and getting damaged.

1. Exposed Interior Plumbing

Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in the danger of freezing since they are in a heated portion of the home or building. Unfortunately, this does not hold for plumbing pipes found in an unheated area, such as an attic, garage, and crawl space at risk of freezing.

2. Under-Insulated Walls

If pipes in exterior walls have frozen in the past, this is probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It is better to open up your wall and beef up your insulation to protect your pipes even if it might cost you a couple of hundred dollars.

How can you protect your pipes?

Once the temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water lines become prone to freezing. That's why it is vital to ensure they are well-protected against frost. Having frozen plumbing pipes in a building can be a huge problem, especially when it leads to significant water damage when the pipe bursts due to the increase in pressure.

The plumbing pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing during cold temperatures are located inside exterior walls and in unheated areas of the building. Picture a frozen pipe-- when this happens, an ice plug forms within the pipeline, which prevents water from flowing and can lead to an increase in pressure between the ice plug and the nearest water fixture. When the pressure increases beyond the pipe capacity and the pipe bursts, you will then face a massive water damage problem. To avoid this, you can use the following preventive measures to keep your building pipes freeze-free.

1. Take Off the Hose

Don't just turn off the water. It is advisable that you drain the water from the pipe leading to the hose bibb and then take off the hose. Don't leave the hose attached to the fixture. Leaving the hose attached to the installation is problematic, especially when the winter season is about to come. You wouldn't want both the hose and the fixture frozen, wouldn't you?

2. Winterize Irrigation System

Is your irrigation system not winterized? If the answer is yes, then your pipes might already be in trouble. Winterizing irrigation systems must be done by an irrigation contractor, so before the low temperatures hit, make sure to double-check if it's complete.

3. Use Heat Tape

Remember to protect all of your exterior water lines with heat tape. Heating tape is attached to an electrical circuit and creates resistance heat that is just enough to keep water from freezing. Always ensure that the channel where the heat tape is tied connects to your backup generator.

4. Clear Your Roof Drains

Be sure that your roof drains are clear of any debris because a clogged roof drain will make a good ice rink on your roof. When this happens, it can be dangerous and cause problems with other mechanical items on your roof. It can also damage the pitch pockets and cause water to enter your building when it thaws.

5. What Salt?

Most of us spread salt to keep our employees and patrons safe from the ice. However, we're sorry to tell you that salt won't work on temperatures that approach 15 degrees. Salt becomes useless at 10 degrees. Sure, ice melt products work, but they can be harsh to our environment. For some people, sand is preferable to add traction on top of the ice.

6. Air Penetration Points Must Be Sealed

The air gaps around wall penetrations, roof penetrations, and other air access points can freeze water pipes inside the building envelope. You can keep the cold air out by checking those penetrations and ensuring they have a heavy-duty caulk sealant or an expandable foam for more significant gaps.

7. Don't Take Lack of Water For Granted.

There are instances when you wouldn't know if a water line is frozen and cracked after only it thaws out. When the water freezes, it expands, so even the smallest leaks or cracks can become a significant leak when everything thaws out.

8. Keep Your Dry Coolers, and Heat Pumps Clear

Always have your heat pumps and dry coolers clear of any snow or ice. Such units need to breathe, and if snow builds up around them, they will stop functioning and possibly break down.

9. Check Your Glycol Concentration

This point is probably the number one reason for buildings that have significant problems. You may be in massive trouble if you don't monitor the glycol concentration.

10. Add Insulation

The parts that are the most susceptible to the cold are attics, basements, and crawl spaces. In today's market, you can already find many insulation material options. Keep in mind that the thicker the insulation, the more freeze-proof your pipes will be.

Always Care For Your Building Pipes

If, for instance, your pipes get frozen, you need to know how to thaw them properly. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, what you should do is run warm water through the pipe to melt the ice. You can also apply heat to the tube by wrapping it with towels soaked in hot water. Avoid using an electric heater, hairdryer, or any device with an open flame to thaw the ice because the high heat can damage your pipes or, worse, can even start a fire. If you're not sure what to do, better call a professional plumber to take care of the job.

Lastly, another way for protecting those pipes against outside elements--including winter-- is by keeping them inside access doors. Access doors have many different kinds, and there will surely be one that will be ideal for protecting pipes and plumbing.

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22nd Jul 2020 Posted by Access Doors and Panels