What the Polar Vortex Means for Your Pipes
As the winter weather continues, "Polar Vortexes" become far more likely, signaling plummeting temperatures and severe weather conditions. This meteorological term, often associated with bone-chilling cold, can have a profound impact on daily life, particularly for homeowners and business owners. In addition to several drops in temperature to worry about, polar vortexes also heavily affect plumbing systems. As temperatures dive, the risk of pipes freezing and subsequently bursting increases, potentially leading to severely damaging water floods. Understanding the polar vortex, how it affects plumbing piping, and the necessary preventive measures are essential for bracing for the winter months. SERVPRO of Long Island City has crafted some preventive measures you can utilize to ensure your plumbing stays safe during the ongoing polar vortex.
Understanding the Polar Vortex and Its Impact
A polar vortex is essentially a vast expanse of swirling cold air that typically envelopes the polar regions. However, during the winter, the vortex at the North Pole often expands, pushing frigid air toward the equator and affecting much of the Northern Hemisphere. This shift can result in a sudden and steep drop in temperatures, often catching businesses and residences off-guard.
The critical issue with these plummeting temperatures is their effect on water pipes. Water expands when it freezes, and this expansion can exert extraordinary pressure on pipes, regardless of whether they are made of metal or plastic. When the pressure becomes too great, pipes can burst, leading to water damage, the potential for mold growth, and the need for repairs on top of restoration and cleaning services.
Prevention and Protection
To mitigate the risks of a polar vortex freezing your pipes, consider the following preventive steps:
- Insulate Pipes: Wrapping exposed pipes in foam insulation, particularly those in unheated areas like basements, attics, and garages, can significantly reduce the risk of freezing.
- Maintain Consistent Indoor Temperature: Keeping your home heated consistently, even when you're away, helps keep the internal temperature of pipes above freezing.
- Allow Faucets to Drip: Allowing a slight drip in faucets can prevent pressure buildup within pipes, reducing the risk of freezing and bursting.
- Drain Water from Pools and Sprinklers: Drain water from the swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Close Inside Valves Supplying Outdoor Hose Bibs: After removing and draining outdoor hoses, close the inside valves that supply these bibs but leave the outside valve open.
- Insulate Vulnerable Spaces: Increase insulation in areas like attics, basements, and crawl spaces to maintain higher temperatures.
- Open Cabinet Doors: Allow warmer air to circulate around plumbing by opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors.
The polar vortex, while a natural weather phenomenon, poses a significant challenge to plumbing, particularly regarding the risk of frozen and bursting pipes. By understanding this meteorological event and taking proactive, preventative measures, you can safeguard your home against the potentially devastating and costly consequences. Prevention actions are far more effective and less costly than repair. Stay warm, stay informed, and prepare your home for whatever the winter brings.
Should you incur any water or storm damage during the Polar Vortex, feel free to contact SERVPRO of Long Island City, and we'll make it "Like It Never Even Happened!"