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Protect Your Albuquerque Homes Pipes from Freezing this Winter – Here’s How

Protect Your Albuquerque Homes Pipes from Freezing this Winter - Here's How


January is usually the coldest month in the Albuquerque metro-area. The average high temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low temperature is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Although these temperatures may seem mild, they can fluctuate. With increasing freak storms and severe weather events, it helps to know how to prevent pipes from freezing when temperatures drop. This knowledge can help you avoid costly pipe repairs or replacement.

The lowest recorded temperature in Albuquerque was -17 degrees Fahrenheit in 1971. This was an anomaly that hasn’t recurred since. However, below freezing temperatures in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit occur consistently every winter in Albuquerque, based on the temperature pattern observed over the past decade. Over the past 10 winters, temperatures have dipped below 32 degrees Fahrenheit on multiple days and nights during the winter months. Therefore, it’s time to ensure your home’s plumbing is fully protected from winter weather and freezing temperatures.

Outdoor pipes and plumbing along outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing or even bursting. Learn how to properly insulate and protect pipes to keep them from freezing during cold Albuquerque winters.

Why Do Pipes Freeze in Albuquerque?

Unexpected extreme cold weather like the winter storms of 2021 can cause pipes to freeze in Albuquerque homes. The prior winter of 2020, insurance companies reported hardly any claims for frozen or burst pipes all year. But by 2021, after the severe winter storms, they had received thousands of claims for frozen and damaged pipes. Clearly, many Albuquerque homeowners weren’t adequately prepared and didn’t know how to properly protect their pipes from freezing temperatures.

The issue is that plumbing in Albuquerque homes and other southern state homes is often exposed. Pipes frequently run along outside or uninsulated exterior walls. Pipes also run through uninsulated crawl spaces and attics where cold outside air can penetrate during cold winter weather events. When water in pipes starts to freeze, it expands as it turns to ice. This expansion puts stress on the pipes. Usually, it’s the water trapped in the pipes that hasn’t frozen yet that causes them to burst. The expanding ice blocks the flow of water and the pressure builds until the pipe splits.

8 Ways to Protect Pipes from Freezing

There are several effective steps you can try:

  1. Insulate Exposed Pipes

Insulating any pipes that run through at-risk, cooler areas of your home helps protect them from freezing when temperatures drop. Foam pipe insulation sleeves are inexpensive and easy to install. Pipe insulation also provides a vapor barrier to prevent exterior pipe corrosion and stop interior pipe sweating drips. Make sure to get the properly sized diameter of pipe insulation for each section of pipe. Also use the adhesive-backed insulating tape included to fully seal and adhere the insulation.

  1. Install and Use Heat Tape or Cables

Wrapping pipes with UL-listed and approved electrically heated tape or cables is very effective. The self-regulating heat wraps raise the pipe temperature to safely prevent freezing. Only buy tested and approved underwater heat tape products. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation and use. Pipe heat wraps also effectively thaw out pipes where ice blockages have already started to form.

  1. Let Indoor and Outdoor Faucets Drip

In cold winter weather, let all indoor and outdoor faucets slowly drip to keep water moving through your home’s pipes. Moving water through pipes resists freezing far better than trapped standing water. If pipes do start to freeze, leave both indoor and outdoor faucets open so melting ice water has an escape route to drain.

  1. Open Doors to Get Heat To Hidden Pipes

Pipes that are out of sight under sinks or behind bathroom and kitchen cabinets are at high risk of freezing. Make sure to open any cupboard doors below sinks during cold spells. This allows warmer indoor air to freely circulate around hidden pipes and prevent freezing.

  1. Maintain Adequate Heat In Your Home

Don’t allow the thermostat temperature to dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit during winter, even when away on vacation. If traveling in winter, make arrangements for someone to regularly check inside your home. The inside temperature should never fall below 55 degrees for more than a couple hours. On forecasted bitterly cold nights, maintain a warm and steady indoor temperature around 70 degrees if possible.

  1. Seal and Insulate Any External Drafts

Stop cold outside air flow into your home around doors, windows, and vents by sealing any gaps or cracks air could enter through. Also make sure attic hatches and crawl space entry points are properly insulated and securely sealed to prevent freezing drafts. Use weather stripping and caulk to seal any other external cracks or openings.

  1. Disconnect and Winterize Outdoor Faucets

In fall, completely disconnect garden hoses from any external faucets. This ensures no standing hose water can back up and freeze inside the outdoor faucet plumbing. Also make sure to purchase and install faucet covers or foam insulated faucet covers. The covers protect outdoor faucets and prevent exterior ice buildup that can infiltrate the plumbing.

  1. Winterize Sprinkler Systems and Pool Plumbing

Protect exterior pool pipes and sprinkler system plumbing from winter damage by properly draining and blowing out all the standing water. Outdoor water supply lines are far more prone to freezing than interior pipes. When left full of water, exposed exterior pipes can easily crack and burst as ice expands inside. Follow your sprinkler system or pool system instructions to thoroughly empty the plumbing lines. Or contact a professional irrigation or pool winterization service for help.

What To Do If an Albuquerque Pipe Freezes and Bursts

A frozen pipe that expands and cracks under pressure will begin spraying or spewing significant water. Act immediately if you notice your pipes are frozen or you have a burst pipe emergency! A fast response is crucial to prevent flooding and limit water damage throughout your home.

Immediately Shut Off the Water Supply

The fastest and easiest way to stop pressurized water quickly flowing out of a burst pipe is to shut off the main water supply valve. The main shut off valve is normally located where the main water supply pipe enters your Albuquerque home near the water meter. You’ll either have a ball valve with a perpendicular handle that needs to be turned a quarter turn, or a gate valve with a wheel handle that needs to be turned clockwise to shut off water.

Call a Professional Emergency Plumber

Repairing or replacing a burst pipe inside a wall cavity or ceiling can be an extremely difficult DIY job. Pipe repair is generally best left to an experienced professional emergency plumber. A certified plumber has the tools and expertise to accurately locate, expose and repair burst pipes. They can also replace sections of damaged pipes and properly join replacement pipe. A qualified plumber will ensure any pipe repairs meet local building and plumbing codes. An expert can also fully assess if any other areas of your plumbing system may have been affected or compromised by the burst.

Prevent Frozen Pipes in Albuquerque

Don’t wait until your pipes freeze or burst to take preventative action. By the time extremely cold winter weather hits, it’s often too late. Take the necessary steps now to properly prepare your Albuquerque home’s plumbing and protect pipes before they become at risk of freezing. Homeowners who educate themselves on cold weather pipe care and properly winterize avoid expensive, damaging pipe freezes and ruptures.

If you need more help learning how to prevent frozen pipes in cold Albuquerque winters, contact the experts at Day & Night Plumbing. We’re always happy to answer any questions about frozen and burst pipes for Albuquerque homeowners.

We service all of metro Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and the entire surrounding region. Protect your home this winter and call Day & Night Plumbing!

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