Frozen Pipes

Can you shut off vents in unused rooms

Can you shut off vents in unused roomsCan you shut off vents in unused rooms. You can turn off the heat in unused rooms however there are some things that you should consider before taking this step. Turning off the heat can have consequences as well as saving you money in terms of your overall heating costs for the winter. In addition in the summertime you may want to turn off the central air-conditioning distribution to those same rooms to reduce the amount of energy used to cool your house.

No Water Pipes in the Wall

Make sure there are no water pipes in the walls in any room where you shut off the heat. In some cases the water pipes are encased inside the outside wall of your house. Turning off the heat in that room could cause those pipes to become cold and even freeze in cold weather.

Water pipes can easily freeze in the wintertime and if you turn the heat off these pipes can freeze causing water leaks. As water turns to ice inside pipes, the ice expands and will break those pipes causing water leaks once the ice thaws.

Your insurance may not be willing to pay for damages if you did not heat the room or turn the water off to those pipes and drain them.

Can you shut off vents in unused rooms and Turn off The Heat

If you do turn the heat off in a room with water pipes you may also want to turn off the water to those rooms and drain the pipes to prevent the pipes breaking if the water where to freeze in the water pipes. Draining individual water pipes in the home is almost impossible unless you could isolate those particular water pipes from all other sources.

Aside from worrying about freezing pipes, consumers can turn the heat off and close the door and not be concerned about the cooler room. They will save some energy costs in that they do not need to heat as much space as normal during the winter. And as we mentioned at the beginning of the post closing off the vents during the summer and not cooling the same room will also save energy by not having to cool that particular room.

If there’s any doubt that there might be water pipes inside the walls of the room that you’re thinking about turning the heat off and not heating that particular room then we suggest that you continue to heat the room during wintertime to avoid any possibility of any kind of accident. Water damage to a room in a home can amount to thousands of dollars in damage. Most people cannot afford this. If nothing else, leave the heat on in the room. Just turn down the temperature in that particular room to reduce the cost of heating that particular area.  You also should confirm how much insulation is in the walls. The insulation is  protecting the water pipes and also insulating your home. You may want to increase the level of insulation in the walls to  reduce your overall heating cost.

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Frozen Pipes

Frozen PipesIn our last post we talked about ,” Turning the Heat off  While on Vacation”. Frozen pipes can occur when you turn the heat down and it gets too cold outside causing potential frozen pipes as shown in this picture. If you have uninsulated water pipes on the outside wall you risk these pipes freezing in cold weather, however they can also occur for many other reasons as well. Many new homes have fresh air intakes that are required for today’s HVAC systems. If this fresh air intake is too close to any of your water pipes , they can freeze during very cold weather. By redirecting the make-up air inlet down to the floor, you can provide some pipe freezing protection.

Frozen Pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage, from leaking water once they thaw out , not to mention the frustration of not having running water due to frozen pipes. Many of the northern states and all of Canada can have very cold weather during the winter, so if you do not pay attention to this issue of potentially freezing pipes you can have a huge expensive problem on your hands.

Frozen Pipes – Shut the Main Water Valve Off

If the pipes are already frozen and leaking you need to shut the main water valve off to prevent additional water leaking from the pipes.  If the pipes have not yet frozen, but are in danger of freezing make sure you know were the shut off valve is and have the name of a plumber you can call if there is a leak unless you can fix this problem yourself.

Remove all of your possessions that could get wet from the area to avoid any damage to them if there is a leak from the pipe bursting under the pressure of the ice in the pipes.

Next you need to deal with this fresh air vent. Do not plug this vent since that is what is providing you with fresh air in your home and avoids all kinds of issues including carbon monoxide build up in your home.

This fresh-air intake pipe is mission critical in today’s newer homes. It provides makeup air for ventilation fans, combustion air for some appliances, and it may be providing air for a traditional masonry fireplace.

Without a make-up air or fresh-air intake, you can have dangerous back drafting of exhaust gases from your fuel-burning appliances. Whatever you do, don’t block this mission-critical pipe.

Direct the air coming from the intake away from your water pipes. You may have to move the pipe or even add an extension on to it to take the air away from the vicinity of the water pipes. Even a deflector to deflect the cold air away from the pipes as it enters your home, will help in an emergency.

Thawing the Frozen Pipes

You can now start to thaw the frozen pipes. Do not use a torch. You can place  damp towels in a microwave oven and heat them up just like flight attendants do for all those pampered passengers who fly first class on airplanes. Wrap the pipes with these steaming hot towels to start thawing the frozen pipes. It will probably take repeated heating in the microwave for the towels to thaw the pipes.

Another approach is to place an electric space heater in the room were the pipes are frozen and warm up that room. This will take some time as well, but will gradually relieve the pressure on the pipes. Combining the hot towels and the space heater may make this a quicker job.

Consumers have also use hair dryers with the blower directed at the frozen pipe to thaw them out. Remember once the water begins to flow the water will melt the rest of the ice in the pipe.

Avoiding Future Problems with Frozen Pipes

Unless you provide some kind of permanent solution to this problem, it is quite likely that you will have frozen pipes again the next time it gets really cold outside. Some people have been forced to let the water run at a trickle so that there is always water moving in the pipes to keep them from freezing. This is a good short term solution, but not a long term one.

You may need to consider one or all of the following solutions to avoid this problem in the future:

  • Move the end of the fresh air intake away from the water pipes
  • Extend the end of the fresh air intake to the bottom of the floor
  • Insulate the water pipes in this room
  • Place a hot air duct in this room, and open it when the weather is cold
  • Place an electric space heater in the room and run it when the weather is cold
  • Move the water pipes to another area

Comments are welcome. Any comments that help our readers with this issue will be appreciated and displayed on this post.


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