Cold like what enveloped Highland County last week can mean several pipes bursting. But Dave Blair, owner of Blair’s Plumbing, said that was not the case. He said he didn’t handle many of them and that he talked to Dale McCoy, owner of McCoy Plumbing Co., who also said he didn’t have a lot.
Blair gave a couple of reasons this for the lack of froze pipes despite below freezing temperatures — people might have been a little more prepared for the cold or there wasn’t enough wind to cause pipes to freeze.
“You can get down in the single digits, but if you don’t have any wind, you don’t have as much freeze damage, but if you have that combined with winds, you’re gonna get a lot of freezing stuff, exposing the little cracks and stuff in the foundations usually does more damage when the wind blows,” Blair said.
He stressed a freezing pipe heavily involves temperature, and that if it gets cold enough, it will freeze. He even mentioned an instance when a pipe froze in the middle of a heated house. The house had space where the pipe was put in the house, which is where a cold air draft went in and froze the pipe.
He highlighted how a pipe would burst. First, when a pipe freezes, ice will expand. He said the ice is what causes the damage. This ice blocks water flow until the pipe thaws out. When it does thaw, the ice runs out the hole. That thaw also causes pressure in pipes and makes leaks in them.
Blair said that some people have old foundations and that if they have a crawl space, they should close their vents. He said that if people can keep the air draft out, the ground heat will protect the pipes.
“But, simply insulating pipes in a space that gets cold doesn’t do anything,” Blair said. “Because insulation has two purposes: to keep heat out and keep heat in. If there’s no heat to maintain, if there’s no keep in or out, then it will just freeze. If you take a can of Mountain Dew and wrap it up in insulation and set it out in below zero temperatures, it’ll be frozen when you go back out. So, you gotta have heat if you’re gonna have insulation, you gotta put heat tape on then put your insulation on, and then you stand a chance.”
He talked about ways people can make sure their pipes don not burst or freeze. One of those is if people have an old rock foundation that has a lot of holes, they should possibly put bales of straw around the outside to stop the draft.
The other way is by running the faucet if you have a pipe that you know freezes each year consistently. However, he said it needs to be more than just a drip. That is because moving water doesn’t freeze as fast unless it gets very cold. He also said that if something does end up freezing, use a hairdryer to thaw it. That’s because if people use something with an open flame, it is possible to start a fire.
Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.