Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. Rocket Plumbing provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

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Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:

Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action

Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Future Protection

Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.

Hot Water Heater Hook-Ups Made Easy

Hooking up a hot water heater is one of the most common home repair jobs there is. However if you don’t know what you are doing, or don’t know the first thing about hot water heaters, well then you could be in hot water…quite literally.

But installing a hot water heater can actually be a rather easy thing to learn. You just have to make sure you read all the directions before you start so you don’t get in over your head before you even start. The last thing you want to do is realize you can’t do this and then be stuck without any hot water!

The first thing you have to do is the most obvious. You have to disconnect and remove your old hot water heater. Doing this is pretty easy. You just have to be careful. Remember it is full of hot water still.

So, first turn off your gas or electricity that is connected to that water heater. You will then need to drain the water from the old unit. There should be a drain valve located on it.

On a gas heater, separate the vent pipe from the draft hood. The hood should lift off after you remove the sheet metal screw that holds it. After checking that the pilot light is out, disconnect the gas line at the heater and cap it.

Next remove the water heater from the water pipes. Be careful when doing this because the pipes may still have hot water in them. This water is hot enough to burn you if you are not careful.

You may need some pipe wrenches to get some of them off, but there should not be many connected so this step should not take too much time or effort. You may now take out the old hot water heater and throw it away.

Many local and state laws have certain restrictions on the disposal of these, so check with the local authorities on the disposal requirements.

Now that you have the old unit out, it is time to install the new unit. Move your new hot water heater to its new home by using a dolly. You don’t want to “walk” it or drag it. There are delicate parts inside that can be damaged if it is jolted or subjected to too much shock.

Position your new heater so that the pipes will easily reach it. If you are using gas, you want to be especially careful that the gas pipe can reach easily to avoid any potentially dangerous gas leaks.

Next connect the hot and cold water. This is usually a simple process of connecting the new water heater to the same connections as the old water heater. Then you connect the third pipe to the main water line that distributes the water to the rest of the house.

Refer to the user manual if there are no connections, or if you are confused as to which pipe goes where. This is the most common mistake made in installing a hot water heater. If you turn on the water and your cold water turns hot, and your hot water never heats up, go and switch the pipes.

Next you need to locate the relief valve on your newly connected hot water heater. The temperature and pressure relief valve is a very important part of your hot water system.

The relief system releases excess heat and pressure automatically so that your hot water heater does not explode. It is a very important and a valuable safety feature that comes standard on all hot water heaters.

The last step in connecting your new hot water heater is connecting it to the power. You have to connect it either to the gas line or the electricity for it to heat the water. Refer to the instruction manual on how to do this.

If you follow the directions there is no reason that you can not successfully connect your new hot water heater. It is a fairly easy job. It just takes a little time and patience and anyone can do it. It is simply a matter of reconnecting to the new hot water heater, everything that you disconnected from the old one.

Five Main Things to Know before Buying New Tub

Some people will walk into a home improvement store expecting to walk out with a new bathtub. However, they did not think of all that entails which deciding to purchase and install a new tub.

On the other hand, there are people like you who are reading articles like this. That is a very good thing. You are one of the persons who will be able to make an educated decision about buying a bathtub.

Five things should come to mind when choosing a bathtub. Those five things are listed and described as follows:

Know the dimensions of your bathroom.

In order to make an educated decision in purchasing a bathtub, you should the length and width measurements of your bathroom. You should also know how high the ceiling is from the ground.

Also you should multiply the length of the bathroom by the width of it, to give you the total square feet. This will help you determine approximately what size your tub should come in. Also, it will determine how high from the ground it will be raised.

Know the dimensions of where your bathtub will go.

Once you have measured the total square feet of your bathroom. You should decide how much space you want your tub to use. Some people d not mind if the bath tub takes up most of the space in the bathroom. Yet others will be concerned about it.

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