How to Prevent Pipe and Sprinkler Breaks
If your home or business is utilizing a sprinkler system, now is the time to prepare in hopes of preventing a pipe freeze this winter! Something important to note is that if you have a wet sprinkler system, there is water contained in the pipes at all times. Water-filled sprinkler pipes tend to freeze before other water pipes because the water is not moving. This can quickly happen in below zero temperatures, increasing water pressure in the pipe. Contrary to popular belief, the burst often happens in a portion of the pipe that did not actually freeze because of this fact about water pressure. Even if the pipe does not burst, frozen water can cause an obstruction that will make the system useless in the event of a fire.
Water-filled piping must be kept at a minimum of 40-degrees Farenheit (4.4-degrees Celsius), according to the NFPA Standard #25 as of 2011. Keeping your thermostat at a steady 55-degrees Farenheit, however, is suggested.
Beyond maintaining a temperature in your space, providing sufficient insulation can protect your pipes, given that insulation blocks the flow of cold air. In attics, you can often find piping close to the ceiling with insulation placed over pipes. Verify that this insulation is still in tact and doing its job. Insulating tape (not electrical tape) can be used to wrap pipes that are lacking insulation in these unheated areas.
Plumbing pipes that are housed in cabinets, such as those under sinks, are often warmed by the home’s temperature. Opening these cabinets from time to time to expose the pipes to room temperature can warm them a bit if you fear they may be getting cold. Occassionally turning on the faucet (both hot and cold water valves) will create a flow of water, which is less likely to freeze than standing water. Removing and draining outdoor hoses can also help protect plumbing pipes.
The following are some steps to take if you believe a pipe in your home has frozen:
- Shut off the water flow immediately. Do not attempt to thaw pipes until you’ve done this.
- Apply heat directly to the frozen pipe using a non-flammable, non-electrical item. For example, a towel soaked in hot water can be used.
- Once the pipe has thawed, turn the water back on very slowly and check for cracks or leaks as you do this.
In the event that your sprinkler system has experienced a pipe freeze or burst, be sure to give City Fire a call and we can handle the repair process for you. Call our team of experts at (973) 560-1600