Ice Dams & Frozen Pipes – Prevention & Repair
As temperatures drop, frozen pipes and ice dams become a concern. In this, we cover how to prevent frozen pipes while also covering how to protect your roof from harmful ice dams.
When Ice Dams Form on Your Roof:
Have you noticed ice dams on your roof?
Has water entered your home from an area you can’t determine?
Ice damming occurs when water from melting snow runs down the surface of a roof and re-freezes.
The melted snow is caused by warm air in the attic space that heats the underside of a roof…It then re-freezes, lifting the shingles from the roof deck and giving the water an opportunity to enter.
1. Remove the ice dam by breaking it free in small chunks. Do NOT use an ax or other sharp tool! You’ll cut through the shingles. Instead, tap lightly with a blunt mallet. This is slow, dangerous work, so hire someone experienced at roofing. Even if you do it safely, the chunks of ice can take pieces of shingle with them.
2. Clear out gutters and downspouts. Again, this is ladder work and an easy way to damage either plastic or metal gutters and spouts.
3. Melt “troughs” through the ice dam with calcium chloride ice melter. Do NOT use rock salt! It will damage paint, metals, and plants beneath the eave and wherever the salty water drains.
A good trough-maker is a tube of cloth (a leg from an old pair of pantyhose works well). Fill it with calcium chloride, tie off the top, and lay it vertically across the ice dam. It will slowly melt its way down through the dam, clearing a path for the underlying water to flow freely into your home.
Prepping Your Home for Cold & Icy Weather:
While we can’t control the weather in North Carolina, Tennessee, or South Carolina, one thing we can control is our planning for colder temperatures. Frozen pipes can cause massive amounts of water damage in your home or business. It’s important to follow certain protocols when the temperatures are going to hit below freezing, we also want to highlight key areas that are vital for you to focus on to protect your home or business for years to come.
Eliminate Sources of Cold Air Near Water Lines:
As one of the foremost water damage restoration companies in the Southeast, we’ve seen it all when it comes to frozen pipes and busted water lines. One of the main contributors to frozen pipes is the lack of proper insulation in your home. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennesee are home to some of the fastest-growing communities in the nation. Housing developments have sprung up in record time. In some instances, homes that are built extremely fast can have insulation issues in key areas that can contribute to freezing and burst pipes.
Insulate Exposed Pipes with Insulation.
Often in both older and newer homes across the Southeast, crawlspaces are home to exposed pipes with either no insulation or improperly applied insulation. This means that when cold and freezing air fills your crawlspace, your pipes are exposed to the elements. Now, there’s no way to predict exactly when your pipes will freeze or burst, but failure to properly insulate exposed pipes is a ticking timebomb.
Know How to Shut Off Your Water:
Every home is equipped with a shutoff valve. While that is good in theory, when we ask homeowners where their shutoff valve is, more often than not, they’re not sure. It’s always a great proactive measure to know where your water & gas shutoffs are. In some older homes, the shutoff valve could have been covered up during a remodel, or even is regulated to the main valve near the street.
Sprinkler Systems & Irrigation:
Sprinkler Systems and Irrigation Systems should be properly drained and winterized. In some cases, if your home was recently purchased. You may not know exactly how to winterize your irrigation and sprinkler systems. We recommend contacting a local landscaping & irrigation company in order to ensure your irrigation system is properly maintained during freezing weather.
When Temperatures Stay Below Freezing:
Examine cabinets and vanities. In some cases, some cabinets have pipes that run through cabinets and vanities. When possible, open up cabinet and vanity doors to let warmer room temperatures into your usually enclosed spaces.
Running Water Prevents Freezing Pipes:
When the forecast calls for freezing temperatures for an extended period of time, having water trickle through your pipes is a great way to ensure your pipes will not freeze.
What To Do When Pipes Freeze:
If the unspeakable happens, and your pipes do freeze without bursting. Here are a few tips to help you act fast:
- Shut Off Water Immediately: This might seem counter-intuitive since a key element to preventing freezing pipes is keeping your water running. However, once your water lines freeze it’s too late.
- Thaw Pipes with Warm Air: Hairdryers, turning on your fireplace, increase the interior temperature of your home. Space heaters are a great way to add functional heat in a specific area. Be mindful of electrical and water hazards and never use kerosene or open flames.
- Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn on your water while being mindful of pipes and pipe joints that could have been damaged when the pipes expanded.
There’s no easy way to predict if/when your home will be exposed to a burst pipe. We offer 24/7 emergency water damage restoration services from our five key locations across the Southeast. We can help you navigate the tricky process of water damage restoration, and also help prevent issues like this from happening in the future.