Generally, if the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit ice will form in water lines and pipes will freeze.
Years ago when copper and steel pipes were all the rage, homeowners had a series of precautions they adhered to in order to keep these types of pipes from freezing and eventually bursing.
Any pipe can freeze if the temperature gets cold enough, and many do. But PEX pipes are flexible and as a result, they will expand a bit during freezes making them less likely to burst. But that doesn't mean they are freeze proof. If you take the proper precautions - you can prevent your pex pipes from freezing.
The reason your pipes freeze and burst is simply because of the standing water in them.
Your water pipes will have water left in them even if you haven't used them for awhile. If these pipes are not properly insulated, when the temperature gets to freezing or below - that water will freeze. And when it does, it expands taking up more space in the pipe than when it was liquid. The pressue in that pipe can go from 40 lbs per square inch up to 40,000 psi - that's a tremendous amount of pressure and as a result - the pipe bursts.
6 Steps To Prevent Your Pex Pipes From Freezing
If the weather reports temperatures will hit 20 degrees or lower - this is your alert to take the following steps to keep your pipes from freezing and eventually bursting.
- If your pex pipes are in your garage - keep your garage doors closed to retain as much heat as you can inside your garage.
- Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets (if you have pex pipes behind those cabinets).
- Turn a faucet on so that water drips (leave it on while the temperature is 20 degrees or lower). This forces water to run through the pipes and helps to prevent sitting water from freezing.
- Cover any air vents which will help to keep the area warmer.
- Keep your thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night.
- Any insulation that you can add to your home, in the walls, wrapping pipes, windows, cracks in doors, etc. will help to prevent your water pipes from bursting and creating an expensive mess.
Follow these steps and the likelihood of your water pipes freezing diminishes a great deal.
But, if you do happen to discover a frozen pex pipe, don't panic. You can thaw it.
How To Thaw A Frozen Pex Pipe
Here are some simple steps that you can follow to thaw any pex pipe in your home.
- Inspect the pex pipes and make sure that there are no visible cracks in the pipe. If you do see a crack contact your local plumber.
- Shut off your main water line.
- Open all the faucets that are connected to those pex pipes. Let those faucets run until no more water comes out.
- Use a hair blow dryer on the frozen pex pipe to thaw it out. Don't place the blow dryer directly on the pipe, hold it a few inches away and test the pipe with your hands to feel if it's thawed enough. But be aware that the general rule of thumb is that pex tubing can withstand temperatures of up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you don't want to keep the hair dryer on high heat for too long on the same area of the pipe.
How To Insulate Pex Water Lines
Pex pipes are different from all other types of pipes. They are flexible whereas other types of water pipes are rigid. It's much easier to insulate a hard, rigid surface than it is to insulate one that bends and seems malleable.
But, insulating pex pipes makes sense because, although they are less likely to crack than other types of pipes, they are still susceptible to ultraviolet light and freezing. So, keeping these tubes wrapped in some kind of insulation just makes sense. And since pex pipes are flexible, the insulation must be flexible as well.
Tips On Insulating Pex Piping
- The type of insulation normally used for pex pipes is foam simply because it can be flexible and seems to work well with pex tubing.
- Before you wrap the pipes in foam make sure to clean it with a wet rag.
- Use insulation tape on the ends of the foam insulation so that the pipe tubes are completely sealed
Water Pipes That Don't Freeze
There are NO water pipes that do not freeze. But below is a list of the different materials water pipes are made of and what temperatures they can withstand.
- Iron - 2570° F
- Copper - 1981° F
- Galvanized Steel - 392° F
- Pex - 200° F
- CPVC - 200° F
- PVC plastic - 140° F
If you have any questions about pex piping, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-505-8570. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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