Air Infiltration is a Leading Cause of Frozen Pipes
Air infiltration is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when the conversation turns to frozen pipes. This is unfortunate because most pipe freezing issues are actually caused by this issue. The good news is that you can take steps to lessen the possibility of air infiltration and protect your home from many plumbing emergencies.
What Is Air Infiltration?
Modern homes are designed with many safeguards to protect pipes in winter. For example, in the northeastern part of the country, residential piping is routed inside the home's insulation barrier. This will prevent frozen pipes in all but the most bitter cold. Precautions against frozen pipes are not quite as stringent in many southern areas, simply because milder temperatures make this threat less likely. However, newer construction includes important safeguards like insulation along crawl spaces to minimize the odds of the problem occurring.
As effective as the strategies are, they all rely on the home’s insulation being able to keep out cold drafts. But many things can break down this protective layer. These include damage from mice or other pests, inadvertent or willful damage to the home’s perimeter or simply the effects of time. When these problems occur, cold air can circulate around pipes and cause them to freeze. This is what is known as “air infiltration.”
How to Protect against Air Infiltration
Fortunately, there are ways to keep infiltrating air away from your pipes. These include:
- Checking your basement or crawl space on a regular basis to ensure that the insulation and outside materials are in good shape. It’s especially important to do this before the onset of the cold season. If you spot any holes or cracks, then seal them with caulking to prevent air infiltration
- Sheathing your pipes in insulation or specially made heating cables or tapes. If choosing the latter option, it’s crucial to follow all recommended safety procedures in the product’s installation and use. Failure to do so could expose you or others to risk of electric shock or fire. Tapes and cables with built-in thermostats do not have to be plugged in before use
- Keeping cabinet doors slightly ajar, allowing water to trickle gently from faucets, and moving garden hoses into your home or a storage shed for the winter season. If the home will be empty for holiday trips or vacations, you can also turn the water supply off at the street or in your basement. If you do this, then make sure the flow is stopped entirely and turn your spigots on to relieve existing pressure in your lines
Air infiltration is a real threat that can cause frozen pipes and other problems. But, by following the tips outlined above, you can minimize these threats and get through the cold season worry-free. In the meantime, we invite you to consider Owens Construction for your kitchen upgrade, home design and other residential needs.