January 3rd, 2014 8:28 PM by Dan Howard
Record cold temperatures have stretched across the country from one end to the other. We are just hitting the first official weekend of winter and have already had “way too much” record breaking freezing weather.
Now, for those that have never had the experience of frozen pipes, be thankful for the lack of familiarity! You have missed out on a big mess usually accompanied by heartache and thousands of dollars in damage.
Power outages can turn the best furnace into a hunk of useless metal and your home into an oversized freezer. Newer furnaces are sized to barely keep up with heating a home as a way to save energy. They are not sized for unusually cold weather and the time between a furnace failing and pipes freezing can be very short. Crawl spaces and garage areas are at very high risk for freeze damage even when the furnace is operating properly.
A new or a well-insulated house is not a guarantee against frozen pipes if we have extreme cold, particularly if it is coupled with a high wind. Keep in mind that we do not get warning of extreme cold ahead of time making advance preparation the best defense. Even in a house that is well insulated, a hole in a wall, a loose board, or a missing piece of insulation in a wall can result in freezing pipes.
All of us have seen a plastic milk jug bulge when the milk has frozen. No force on earth can prevent water from expanding 10% when it freezes. If the expansion occurs in an enclosed area such as plumbing pipes, a hot water heating system, toilet bowl or sink drain trap, they will burst.