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common winter plumbing issuesThe Blue Ridge Mountains are well-known for their beautiful mountain scenery and temperate climate. While the City of Asheville, NC rarely sees major snowfall, it can vary greatly in the surrounding areas, where elevations reach above 6,000 feet. 

Popular winter activities for families in Asheville include snow tubing, walking through the Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum, and hitting the slopes at Cataloochee and Wolf Ridge ski areas. No matter if you prefer a cold hike or a cold beer at one of our many breweries, Asheville is the place to be in winter! 

Five Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

Residents of Asheville know that when the weather outside is frightful, water pipes are vulnerable to freezing and creating a big headache. Burst pipes are a common cause of property damage during cold snaps, and they can cost homeowners and renters thousands of dollars of damage. As with most areas of life, the best cure is prevention! So, how do you keep your pipes from freezing

Don’t Leave Your Plumbing Out in the Cold This Winter

The good news is, preventing frozen pipes is easy and it won’t cost a fortune. Win-win! 

Another check in the Win column: when you are proactive in keeping your pipes safe from winter temperatures, you can avoid expensive repairs. You will also help ensure you don’t lose access to water for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc. The cost of fixing burst pipes can stretch upwards of $5000, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. 

So, how do you prevent frozen pipes? 

  • Don’t assume your pipes won’t freeze! We know what you’re thinking: North Carolina doesn’t get that cold. But you must remember, our lows are still below freezing; Asheville’s average low temperature in the winter is 28℉ degrees. Yes, compared to our northern neighbors, our winters can feel downright balmy! But, pipes in western North Carolina can be even more vulnerable to freezing because they may not be properly insulated against any extreme cold we may experience (does anyone else recall the single-digit highs in December 2022?!). 
  • Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. This allows warm air to circulate around your pipes. If you keep cleaning chemicals or other hazardous materials there, be sure to put them up and out of the way of children and pets.
  • Don’t be afraid to drip. During cold stretches, let your water drip a bit (you just need moving water, it doesn’t have to be warm). A trickle helps prevent freezing.
  • Keep your thermostat at the same temperature at night. You may have to sacrifice a few dollars on your heating bill, but it’s worth it if it keeps your water flowing and your pipes intact. Don’t dial the thermostat back at night when the temperature plunges. If you’re not going to be home for an extended period, set the thermostat at no less than 55℉.
  • Consider heating tape. For pipes that are easily accessible, you can apply heating tape. One option is tape that turns on and off when it senses heat is needed; the other plugs in when you think you’re most at risk for issues. The flip side of this is that, like space heaters, they can be risky. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Keep your exterior doors, including the garage, closed during the winter. Even if they’re not around the plumbing, these doors still allow cold air to circulate. 

Here are some other, more extensive steps you can take:

  • Add insulation to your basement, attic, and crawl spaces. Insulation can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot and it provides an excellent return on investment. A few hundred dollars can save you a few thousand - and it’ll prep your home for years of warmth. You’ll also see savings on your heating bill (and your cooling bill in the summer!).
  • Seal up drafts, cracks, and openings. Feeling the breeze? Filling gaps with caulking, weather stripping, and other insulative materials protect pipes. Again, it’ll prevent heat loss - and sticker shock when you get your utility bill.

What If Your Pipes Freeze?

Uh-oh. You get up in the morning, regretfully crawling out of your warm cocoon of blankets, and turn on the tap. Nothing comes out. What do you do?

  • Turn on the faucets and leave them on.
  • Call Barlow Plumbing for help!
  • Do not try to thaw the pipe with a torch or open flame. Did you know that frozen pipes are a major cause of structural fires? Don’t risk it.
  • If you want, use a hair dryer on “warm” to try and thaw the pipe. Start close to the faucet and work your way out. 
  • If pipes have burst and you have flooding, turn off your water valve. Do not touch any electrical appliances in the area. Call for help immediately. This can be a dangerous situation.

Experienced Plumbers in Asheville

It can be difficult to find the precise location of a freeze and to resolve it safely and effectively; to prevent further damage and costly repair bills, call an experienced, certified plumber like Barlow Plumbing. With over 25 years of experience serving Asheville, Black Mountain, and Weaverville, we are your experienced and reliable choice for all of your residential plumbing needs. 

Contact us today for more information about how we can help keep your home’s plumbing in great shape for many winters to come.