It’s supposed to drop down to 28 degrees tonight in San Antonio, so a lot of homeowners are (hopefully) in the mindset of protecting their pipes, pets and plants. Here’s a little backstory on the what happens when pipes freeze or burst.
Pipes burst when water expands inside the pipe due to freezing temperatures. This usually occurs in less than 20 degrees, but it can happen above that mark as well. In the south, pipes are generally exposed to the outdoor elements, unlike the north where they expect freezing temps.
So here’s what you can do to protect your pipes:
1. Let your faucets drip. Slightly. Water can still freeze, but it releases the pressure in the pipe that causes the water to expand in the pipe and then burst. Run both the hot and cold side, if applicable, as both sides are susceptible to freezing.
2. Insulate outside pipes, but DO NOT COVER. You want the fixture to still drip water to prevent freezing, but a hose bibb or outside pipe can be insulated to protect it from the elements are reduce chances of bursting.
3. Keep your cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate around your pipes.
If your pipes do burst, call a plumber. While you wait for a professional, you can turn off your water at the meter.
If you’re going out of town, consider winterizing your home. A plumber can winterize by draining down your plumbing system, water heater, fixtures and appliances to ensure there isn’t any water in the pipes. Then they add a chemical, similar to anti-freeze, for any remaining water in the pipes.