After an unforgivingly cold night, you turn your tap on and instead of water steadily gushing out, what you get is a sickly trickle. What may follow is nothing at all. Extremely low temperatures are a danger to pipes; even the most sound of pipes may not be immune. This is not an admirable situation. In fact, the damages resulting from frozen water pipes can be monstrous. A single pipe gushing out water at a rate of 4 to 8 gallons per minute will lead to an unprecedented loss of money in minutes.
Why Pipes Freeze and Burst
Although good pipes can freeze, faulty taping, inadequate insulation or the malfunctioning of a thermostat may directly lead to freezing of pipes. Additionally, pipes found in outside walls, in unheated locations or under a sink are susceptible to freezing. Water freezing in a pipe undergoes an expansion, which then exerts excess pressure of up to 2,000 pounds per Cubic Square on the pipes leading to their rupture.
Types of Pipes
One of the major things to consider, especially when building a new home or an addition, is what type of pipes should be used. If you live in a climate where temperatures are very cold in winter, then you will want to consider what pipe material is less likely to freeze and burst.
- Copper- Most people today choose cooper for their plumbing needs because of its longevity. Cooper pipes that were placed in homes 80 years ago are still working. Cooper is also considered a ‘green’ product, as it won’t pollute your water. However cooper is the most likely to freeze and burst in cold weather and is the most expensive choice, running $285 for 100 feet.
- PEX- PEX Pipes are made of It is very flexible and one long piece can be use to plumb the entire house because it will turn and twist as needed. Because of the materials it contains many people worry that it might contaminate the water. It is the least likely to burst in winter weather because it will expand if the water inside freezes. The cost of PEX is around $30 for 100 feet.
- PVC (polyvinyl chloride)- These are the most commonly used pipes. This is the easiest for DIYer to install because you don’t need any special equipment. It is safe for your drinking water, but in not considered green due to the manufacturing process, and it is not recyclable. When frozen PVC does have some flex and usually does not burst when frozen, however if the water continues to run into the pipe after it freezes the pipe will burst due to the pressure of the water pushing on the frozen chunk. It usually cost $50 for 100 feet.
- PP (Polypropylene pipe)- PP is considered the safest for your drinking water because even though it is hard plastic type material like PVC, it does not need chemical glues, etc. to join together. Rather heat melts the joins into one. The installation requires specialty tools that may not be available to everyone. As for chances of freezing the pipes respond in the same way as PVC. The cost of PP pipes is around $110 for 100 feet
All said and done, freezing of pipes is dangerous in every sense of the word. Undoubtedly, preventing a burst or fixing one must be undertaken when your pipes succumb to the cold temperatures. So when installing new water pipes you may want to consult a professional to help you choose the correct type of pipes for your particular needs.