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Do Pipes Freeze in California?

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do pipes freeze in california

Frozen pipes aren’t something most Californians worry about very often. But with temperatures dropping and winter approaching, it might be a good idea for you to take a moment and consider the possibility of having your pipes freeze. To give the short answer to this question—yes, pipes can freeze in California. But there’s a lot more you should know. Keep reading to learn more about burst pipes with these tips from the best plumbers in Sacramento.

Cold Snaps Do Happen

First and foremost, it’s important to note that cold snaps can happen anywhere. We won’t soon forget the shocking images that came out of Texas last winter when homeowners saw the ice in their toilets freeze solid and their pipes bursting to flood their homes with water, which also quickly froze over. Texas’s winters tend to be just as mild as California’s, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that what happened there could easily happen here.

It Doesn’t Take Long

It’s also important to note that it doesn’t take prolonged, dramatic weather conditions for pipes to freeze. If temperatures plummet overnight, just a few hours of below-freezing temperatures can cause the stagnant water in your pipes to freeze. As the water expands and becomes ice, it puts pressure on the pipe and can eventually cause it to burst—all while you’re still asleep in your warm bed.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Even if frozen pipes aren’t a regular issue here in California, it’s still worth taking steps to protect our pipes from freezing, simply because it’s incredibly easy and inexpensive to do. All it takes is some decent insulation around any exposed pipes, and you’ll significantly reduce the odds of your pipe ever freezing and bursting. Pipe insulation is inexpensive and can be applied to an exposed section of pipe in just a few minutes. If you don’t want to do it yourself, or you’re concerned about doing a thorough job and insulating all vulnerable pipes, contact a professional to do it for you.

Other Causes of Burst Pipes

We’d also like to point out that freezing is not the only cause of a burst pipe. Pipes can burst for many reasons, even in the middle of summer. Common causes of burst pipes, aside from freezing, include the following:

  • A bad DIY plumbing repair
  • Hard water buildup
  • Improper plumbing installation
  • Poor soldering job on pipes
  • Damage to exposed pipes
  • Water pressure changes

Of course, each of these potential causes has its own preventative measures you can follow to reduce the odds of this happening—avoid DIY plumbing repair, use a water softener, have pipe damage fixed immediately, and so on. Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of care that you give your plumbing. If you’re having your plumbing inspected, maintained, and repaired regularly, the odds are low that you’ll ever experience a burst pipe. However, if you’re ignoring potential issues, performing patchwork plumbing solutions on your own, and ignoring the signs of growing problems, a pipe is likely to give out eventually.

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What to Do If a Pipe Bursts

If you are unlikely to have a pipe burst in your home—whether it’s related to cold temps or other issues—it’s important to act quickly to minimize water damage to your home. Don’t panic. Shut off the water supply to the burst pipe; if you don’t know how to shut it off to that specific area, turn off your water supply line to cut off water to the entire house. If there’s significant water damage in any areas, turn off the circuit breaker to those sections of the home as well.

Then, reach out to Bullseye Leak Detection. We offer water main repair in Sacramento to help you repair the issue quickly and get water restored to your home. You should also contact a water damage restoration company in your area to help you with proper water cleanup and repairs. It’s important to do this quickly so that you can avoid further damage, as well as prevent mold growth in your home.

How to Prepare Your Plumbing for a Northern California Winter

Most people know that a hard winter can cause pipes to freeze and break. However, that’s not often something people think about here in California. After all, our state is known for its beaches and sunny weather, so can winter really be that harsh on your plumbing? The truth is winter can still take its toll, even if you never see snow where you live. Keep reading to get tips on properly preparing your plumbing for a Northern California winter from a plumbing contractor in Sacramento.

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Have Your Gutters Cleaned

It’s a good idea to clean your gutters or have a professional do so for you, even if you’re not currently experiencing frequent clogs in your home. Northern California can get heavy rains during the winter, which can cause more leaves, dirt, and other debris to be clogged in your gutters. This increases the risk of gutter backups occurring. Cleaning out your gutters now makes it less likely that such a backup would cause debris to pile up and could potentially cause your roof to leak in places

Insulate Your Pipes

While it’s true that below-freezing temperatures aren’t incredibly common during California winters, they certainly do occur, especially in the northern part of the state. You should prepare any exposed pipes for those eventual freezes by properly insulating them against freezing temperatures. A simple pipe insulation can provide your pipes with the protection they need.

When water sits in pipes and is exposed to freezing temperatures, the water can turn to ice, expanding within the pipe and putting pressure on the pipe wall. This can cause the pipe to crack or completely burst in many cases. If the pipe is a water supply line that hasn’t been shut off for the winter, this can lead to devastating water damage on your property. So, though you might think the odds of your pipes freezing are low, insulating those pipes could save you thousands of dollars worth of water damage this winter.

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Have Your Plumbing Inspected

The best way to keep your plumbing in tip-top shape is to simply have your plumbing inspected as soon as winter sets in. Your plumber can look for any weak points that might need to be repaired or replaced to avoid a future rupture in your line.

If you’re hosting family for one of the winter holidays, you’ll likely be putting a lot more demand on both your water supply lines and your sewage line. Additionally, many homes put increased strain on their plumbing during the holidays. Having all of your plumbing inspected before guests arrive can help ensure that all of those pipes are up to the task. You can patch up any small leaks before they get worse, tighten loose connections, and snake out obstructions to avoid clogging issues when all the guests are in town. This can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

In addition, you should also be keeping the home at a minimum temperature of 55 degrees. This does two things: first, it will prevent any pipes within the thermal footprint of the house from freezing, and second, in the event of a burst pipe, most insurance carriers might decline coverage if that minimum temperature wasn’t maintained.

Another important and useful tip: if traveling or away from home for a weekend during a cold snap, turn off the water and drain the pressure. Simply turning off the water leaves water in the pipes, which can freeze. This is commonly done in colder climates and is an easy preventative step for those in warmer climates experiencing colder than usual temperatures.


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