Plumbing Archives | PECO Heating & Cooling

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home

With the frigid temperatures, protecting your pipes from freezing is an essential part of winter home maintenance. Water expands as it freezes; this can cause pipes to crack or burst, resulting in serious flooding and water damage to your home and belongings. Damaged pipes can also make your home more susceptible to mold growth. The pipes that are the most at risk are the ones that run against exterior walls or are located in uninsulated or unheated areas, like an attic or basement. 

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home 1

Fortunately, there are several preventive measures you can take to reduce the risk of burst pipes—and expensive property damage. If your pipes are already frozen, we’ll also provide some steps to take to thaw them out. 

  1. Disconnect Your Garden Hoses
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home 2

Once you’re done gardening for the season, disconnect all your garden hoses. Close off any shut-off valves and open the outdoor faucets so you can drain the line. Leave these open throughout the winter so there’s plenty of space for any water that may be trapped in the line to expand without damaging the pipes. Faucet covers, available at many hardware stores, are also a cost-effective way to give your pipes additional protection from the cold. If you have a sprinkler system, you’ll also want to drain the water from the supply lines.

  1. Add Insulation to Your Pipes
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home 3

Insulating your pipes is another cost-effective way to prevent them from bursting. Focus on insulating pipes in unheated areas, like garages, crawl spaces, attics, or basements. The pipes under the kitchen and bathroom sinks can also be vulnerable to damage when the temperatures drop low enough, so you may also want to consider applying foam insulation to them, too. Wrapping your pipes in thermostat-controlled heat cables or heat tape can also prevent them from freezing. 

  1. Seal Air Leaks

Take some time to look around your home for any openings or cracks that are letting in cold air, and seal them with caulk or insulation. Pay close attention to holes around electrical wiring, pipes in the interior or exterior walls, the sill plates, dryer vents and pipes, and where your home rests on its foundation. Also, make a point to keep your garage door closed, except when you’re going in or out. 

  1. Open the Cabinets and Doors in Your Home

Opening the cabinets and doors in your home will allow warm air to circulate around the pipes and keep the heat evenly distributed. If you have young children or pets, make sure to remove any household chemicals in your cabinets first.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Your Home 4
  1. Keep Your Faucets Dripping

Leaving a few faucets (preferably those fed by exposed pipes) dripping overnight helps relieve pressure on the pipes and prevent ice from forming. 

  1. Keep Your Home a Consistent Temperature

During other times of the year, it’s best to set your thermostat to be lower at night or when you’re away from home; during the winter, however, consistent temperature is the key to keeping your pipes damage-free. If you plan to be away from home, set your thermostat to at least 55°F. Although this might raise your energy bill slightly, it’s worth it to prevent potential water damage from a burst pipe. 

Steps to Take if Your Pipes Are Frozen

If you think your pipes are already frozen, turn on the faucet; if the water is only dripping or trickling out, the pipe is likely blocked by ice. Inspect the exposed pipe for breaks or cracks. If you see any signs that the pipe has burst, turn off your home’s main water supply and call PECO Heating & Cooling right away. Don’t attempt to thaw the pipe on your own, because this could cause flooding. If you’re having trouble finding the main water line, we can guide you. We have a 24/7 answering service, so there’s always someone available to assist you!

If the pipe looks good, turn on the faucet and let the flowing water melt the ice. Use a heating pad, hairdryer, warm damp towels, or a space heater to apply gentle heat to a frozen section of the pipe. Don’t use anything that has an open flame, like a lighter or blow torch to thaw the pipe because this can damage it (and it’s a fire hazard). If you can’t access the pipe or thaw it safely, give PECO a call at (864) 639-2424!

The Positive Side of Plumbing

Your gut reaction to plumbing might be “oh no!”. There are a lot of issues that can arise with plumbing – water heater leaks, pipe leaks, pipes freezing – but what about all the great things associated with plumbing? Imagine changing out your kitchen faucet to a sleek, touchless model that makes it easy to prepare dinner and bake cookies without having to fiddle with the faucet. Or upgrading to a tankless hot water heater that has a long life, lowers utility bills, and provides endless hot water. Or changing out the toilet in the restroom to a high-tech model with a seat warmer. The possibilities are endless!

PECO offers plumbing services for South Carolina residents of Central, Seneca, Clemson, Anderson, Six Mile, Sunset, and Salem. We provide 24/7 emergency service for urgent issues like water leaks and pipe bursts. We also offer regular service for upgrades, remodels, and maintenance. Plumbing doesn’t always have to be a problem. Sometimes, it can be fun!

Don’t leave plumbing just to emergencies – utilize PECO to increase your quality of life and enjoyment of your home with plumbing upgrades. We help homeowners modernize their kitchens and bathrooms by upgrading plumbing and life comforts. Have you been wishing for an instant hot faucet for tea? We have a team of experienced home professionals that can help.

How We Can Help

As a licensed contractor, we can handle home improvement and plumbing projects. Let us update your home! Here are just some ideas of what we can do:

Plumbing equipment on gray flat lay background with copy space.
  • Replace bathroom fixtures
  • Install new dishwasher
  • Install new garbage disposal
  • Install new faucets
  • Replace a toilet
  • Replace showerheads
  • Replace hot water heater with gas tankless water heater
  • Install instant hot in kitchen
  • Drain cleaning – small or large jobs

Do you have a plumbing idea for your home? We can bring your vision to life. Call PECO at (864) 639-2424 to schedule an appointment!

Why Should I Hire A Professional To Unclog My Pipes or Drains?

Water draining at sink background. Water flowing drain in washbasin

Clogged plumbing is unfortunately a regular part of life. Almost everyone has experienced a backed-up drain or toilet. Some folks attempt to solve clogs themselves – however, there are dangers to the typical methods used by homeowners. Keep your drains clear safely by relying on professional help from PECO. We are going to go over 4 reasons a professional is needed for drain clogs.

1. Chemicals aren’t the answer.

The main problem with popular mass-market drain cleaning chemicals is that they are not effective at clearing clogs that are large, deep in your pipes, or created from materials resistant to chemical break down. Even if they temporarily break through the clog, they usually don’t entirely clear it out, which sets you up for another clog and using more chemicals.

There are further issues with safety surrounding chemical drain cleaners. You need to be very careful not to let the drain cleaner touch your skin or get near your eyes. These products can be especially dangerous for children and pets, so you need to be very careful about storing them safely away from anywhere they might be accidentally consumed.

Finally, chemicals can damage your pipes. Do not use any cleaning products that contain sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid. These are strong acids that can affect a clog, but will also damage your sink, shower garbage disposal, toilet, pipes, and anything else they come into contact with.

2. Home Remedies are ineffective.

As plumbing professionals, we see people who have tried home remedies to clear clogs. Unfortunately, they are not effective and can even damage your pipes.

We’ve heard of folks using boiling water and dish soap. But this remedy could only work for grease clogs – dish soap will have no effect on food, hair, or other buildup. If your pipes are PCV, we strongly discourage you from purposefully pouring boiling water down the pipes. The PVC and glue used at the joints near the sink trap can be damaged by boiling water, so avoid it for the safety of your pipes!

Some people try to use a wire coat hanger to pull clogged hair out of shower drains. But a hanger is only so long – and very likely isn’t long enough to reach and clear the clog. This method may pull out some hair, but will leave the drain partially clogged and in danger of clogging again soon.

Baking soda and vinegar is a known chemical reaction. While making a volcano with kids is fun, the reaction isn’t powerful enough to really clear a stubborn clog.

3. Plumbers have the correct tools.

We’ve discussed some of the methods homeowners use to clear clogs and how they don’t work. Plumbers have the experience and proper tools to get the job done successfully. While a homeowner generally has a plunger in the bathroom and maybe a wrench, we have a wide assortment of tools that allow us to work on plumbing issues.

This includes various sized and shaped plungers to fit particular needs, such as a ball plunger for toilets that create better pressure. We have a sink auger, or drum auger, that is a specialized tool for plumbers to clear drains, along with a variety of snakes and even endoscopic snake cameras that help us see into pipes to discover the source of the clog.

Water jets can also be used to shoot high-pressure water through clogs to break them up. This method is used to clear large sewer line blockages. Professional plumbers can examine the clog, likely cause, area of the house, and type of pipes to determine the best tools for the job. Professional service means not only professional tools but expert knowledge as well.

4. Professional Insight

A homeowner might deal with a clogged pipe once every few years, but our experienced plumbers see them every day. That gives them insight into the likely cause of clog and how it should be treated, as well as the ability to rescue things like jewelry from the drain without damaging the pipe or pushing it further down.

We can also look at the clog and ascertain if there are larger plumbing issues. Some clogs are simply a hairball in a shower drain, while others are a serious sewer line clog that requires emergency service. If your sewer line is backing up, traditional home fixes like continuing to flush the toilet or adding chemical drain cleaner actually makes the problem worse. A sewer line clog is a serious issue that requires professional help ASAP.

When you have a clogged drain, you deserve effective, successful, professional service. Call PECO to help with your plumbing today!