Tankless Water Heaters vs Traditional Ones

If your water heater is over 10 years old, seriously think about replacing it! This infographic does a good job of outlining all of the advantages and disadvantages of switching to a tankless water heater.

tank-water-heaters-vs-tankless-water-heaters-infographic-Noritz

As you can see, one of the biggest problems with traditional water heater tanks is that they run the risk of leaks or ruptures that could completely damage your finished basement or garage. Tankless water heaters don’t have to worry about storing water, making them a lot smaller and more efficient.

If your water heater is over 10 years old, you should seriously think about replacing it.

It is important to shop around, ask questions, and find the best home service company to install your new water heater.

When it comes to hot water, we can all agree on three things:

1.) We hate waiting for water to heat up.
2.) Nobody likes a cold shower.
3.) We want hot water at a price we can afford.

Now that we’ve found some common ground, let’s get some facts straight about tankless water heaters vs traditional ones:

PROs

  • Tankless water heaters use 30 – 50 percent less energy units than a traditional tank.
  • Depending on how much water your house requires, you could potentially save up to 60% on your water heating bill.
  • Tankless water heaters only heat water when the faucet’s on, saving you on energy costs to constantly have a pilot light on.
  • They last twice as long as traditional water heaters and have easily replaceable parts that can extend their life even more.

CONs

  • The initial upfront price is much higher, but they will last twice as long and save you money every year with its energy efficiency savings, thus offsetting the higher upfront cost.
  • If your home uses a lot of water, you may need two tankless water heaters, raising the upfront costs even more. Still, if you are using that much water to begin with, you probably run out of hot water with your traditional tank too.

Before buying a demand water heater, you also need to consider the following:

Whether you choose a tankless or tank water heater for your home, it’s imperative to have a licensed, expert technician install it, as it is an expensive piece of equipment that should be handled with care. The energy efficiency and useful lifespan are heavily dependent on the quality of installation. Don’t let all those benefits go out the window because you wanted to save a little money on the upfront costs.

Boulden Brothers Home Service can help you choose a water heater that best suits your budget and needs.

Don’t forget to check out our latest blog post on WATER HEATER PURCHASING AND MAINTENANCE


If you have any questions about tankless or traditional water heater repair and replacement, pick up the phone and call the experts at Boulden Brothers Home Service at (302) 368-3848.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

To contact us, you can fill out an online form or send us a message on Facebook and Twitter.

Everyone here at Boulden Brothers wishes you a safe, warm, and happy holiday!

Water Heater Purchasing and Maintenance

Water heaters are often taken for granted until they stop working. On rare occasions, there may be a sign that something is going wrong: the water might not be as hot as usual, or there might be a popping sound in the water heater’s tank as it begins to warm up. This is likely an indicator that some sediment has built up at the bottom of the tank. More often than not, however, there will be absolutely no indication that the water heater has a problem. That’s why some preventative maintenance is critical in order to keep the water heater working properly.

 

First of all, water heater manufacturers recommend that the tank should be flushed on a regular basis. This allows any sediment that has built up at the bottom of the tank to be removed. Hard water is very common in our area, which can shorten the life of the tank while also making it less effective at heating water. If you don’t flush your tank on a regular basis, it will become nearly impossible to remove the accumulated sediment once it has hardened. Accumulated sediment in the tank will simply end up costing you more money.

 

Next, water heaters have a sacrificial anode rod in them so the corrosive properties of the water will act upon the rod instead of attacking the wall of the tank. This rod needs to be inspected, since it is critical for maximizing the tank’s lifespan. When we visit your home to maintain the water heater, we will check the burners, check the operation of the gas valve (for gas water heaters), and check the thermostats and elements (for electric water heaters). By making sure these components are all operating properly, many surprise issues will be prevented.

Buying a New Water Heater

 

When the time has come to replace your water heater, this is the perfect opportunity to consider whether or not you have adequate water capacity. It may be a good idea to think about purchasing a larger (or maybe smaller) sized tank. Tank water heaters supply a limited amount of hot water, and once the tank has been depleted there is a period of recovery time where no hot water will be available.

 

The main point to consider is how much hot water your household needs. Contributing factors to hot water usage are the number of people who live at the home, the number of bathrooms, whether there are any large garden tubs, etc. If you have any questions, we would be happy to assist you in figuring out the best water tank size for your home.

 

Additionally, there’s the choice between electric/gas, and tank/tankless water heaters. Technology is rapidly improving—most people are familiar with traditional electric water heaters, but there are now electric hybrid water heaters on the market. They function like a heat pump in your house, but instead of heating air, they transfer heat to the water. These electric hybrid water heaters are extremely economical to run.

 

There are also traditional tanked gas water heaters that can be vented in the chimney or power vented out of a side wall. Tankless water heaters offer the advantage of never running out of available hot water. Additionally, tankless water heaters only power on when you need hot water (traditional tank water heaters can be thought of as keeping a tea kettle warm on your stove all day long just in case you wanted a hot cup of tea).

Expected Lifespan

Tanked water heaters have the same lifespan regardless of whether they use electricity or gas. Tankless water heaters have a longer lifespan than tanked water heaters, but they also require maintenance such as flushing to prevent buildup from hard water. Solar water heater systems have the longest lifespan. Both the solar panels and the tank itself will last significantly longer than the components of a traditional water heating system.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t know when a water heater will fail. It may just stop heating water because it is so old. Other times, it can spring a leak—either big or small. There are situations where a homeowner returns from a long day of work to find a huge flood. Not only did the water heater leak its contents, but it continued to dump up to 45 gallons of water per minute because the water supply was not shut off.

 

Many people prefer to proactively change their water heater before it has a chance to fail. Another option is a flood safe system, which is a pan that has an integrated sensor. If the water heater ever were to leak, this sensor would automatically shut off the water going into the system to prevent a catastrophic leak from occurring. This is a small investment to pay, especially if the water heater is in a finished basement.

 

If you would like us to help you maintain your existing water heater or install a new water heater, give us a call today.

 

Why Should You Choose Boulden Brothers Propane?

Boulden Brothers Propane Since 1946

Choosing a reliable supplier to fill your needs is just as important as finding the best propane equipment.

Boulden Brothers Propane Service offers the best propane options, is always timely and reliable, has 24-hour on-call service, as well as:

  • Automatic delivery that ensures you will always be comfortable in your home
  • Level payments that take the guess work out of bill paying
  • Managed price volatility through smart buying
  • Annual price protection programs to further manage market fluctuation
  • On call service, 24-hours a day, seven days a week
  • Service plans for your heating & air conditioning system
  • Wireless tank monitors and scheduled delivery
  • Construction and retrofitting of gas lines, gas logs, propane for cooking, and above or underground tanks
  • Pre-buy plan so that you can pay for estimated propane use in advance. Price stays the same for 12-month period.
  • Payment plans to spread the cost out evenly over 12 months

Propane Vehicle Conversion

Boulden Brothers Propane offer incentives to those who use propane as motor fuel. The Alternative Fuels Data Center mentions that these are offered on a case-by-case basis. For more information, visit dmv.org.

RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE of DELAWARE

We are continuing our tradition by giving a penny per gallon sold to the Ronald McDonald House. In fact, with your help, we recently gave them a check for over $5,900.

We look forward to providing your home with propane and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House. If you would like to learn more about the propane services offered by Boulden Brothers, give us a call today.


This video from the The Propane Education & Research Council goes over all of the propane benefits and advantages compared against other energy-efficient measures (EEMs):

We currently service the following counties in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania: New Castle & Kent County DE, Cecil & Kent County MD, Southern Chester County PA.

Visit our Propane Safety page for safety information and links for more in-depth propane heating studies.

If you have more questions, visit the Propane FAQ page.

Here is a Google Map that shows you where Boulden Brothers Propane Refill Stations are located.

To contact us, you can fill out an online form, call us at (800) 296-2553, or send us a message on Facebook and Twitter.

Propane Benefits and Advantages

Thinking about switching to propane?

Propane heating offers homeowners many propane benefits and advantages. If you are looking for a more energy-efficient and cleaner energy source, propane is the perfect choice.

Propane Benefits and Advantages

All the propane benefits and advantages that you could be missing out on:

  • The fuel itself is a clean and environmentally friendly way to heat your home.
  • It installs easily and has a lower cost when compared to other heating fuels.
  • Propane heating reduces the need for frequent maintenance.
  • Instant and effective heat and hot water.
  • Propane benefits the local economy since it is a domestically produced fuel source.
  • Delaware, along with most other states (sorry, Alaska) offer rebates and other incentives for switching to a cleaner and more energy efficient propane heating system. Check with your state. Boulden Brothers provides rebates and incentives for switching to propane gas.
  • Propane heating ensures year upon years of reliable and quality service. They can last up to three times as long as electric systems for instance.
  • Propane heating is also quite versatile, so if you want to be install a hydronic or zoned heating system, it is quite easy to do so. You can also switch all of your cars and trucks to propane to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • If you already have a propane system, we can convert your electrical appliances to propane as well, saving you even more money.
  • If you have a large propane tank, it will be automatically refilled on a set schedule to make sure you always have heat. We have an abundant supply.
  • To fill a 250 gallon tank costs about $200. In the case of a strong winter, it might cost you in total $400 for the whole year!
  • You can also use your propane tank to heat your pool during the colder months. It is much cheaper and heats faster than an electric heater.

The Designing Spaces home improvement television show recently showcased propane benefits and advantages with Rich Napier, builder, and Mike Cline, sales executive:

RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE of DELAWARE

We are continuing our tradition by giving a penny per gallon sold to the Ronald McDonald House. In fact, with your help, we recently gave them a check for over $5,900.

We look forward to providing your home with propane and donating a portion of the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House.


Propane is a reliable, affordable, and clean alternative source of fuel made right here in the United States!

If you would like to learn more about the propane services offered by Boulden Brothers, give us a call today. We currently service the following counties in Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania: New Castle & Kent County DE, Cecil & Kent County MD, Southern Chester County PA.

Here is a Google Map that shows you where our Propane Refill Stations are located.

To contact us, you can fill out an online form, call us at (800) 296-2553, or send us a message on Facebook and Twitter.

Safety Tips For A Stress-Free Thanksgiving

With an average of 430 daily fires, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries according to NFPA’s Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment Report & NFIRS data. Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, with three times the average number!

 

Boulden Brothers Home Services

Boulden Brothers Home Services – Thanksgiving Safety

 

The kitchen is the heart of the home, especially at Thanksgiving. Kids love to be involved in holiday preparations. Safety in the kitchen is important, especially on Thanksgiving Day when there is a lot of activity and people at home.

Follow These Safety Tips to Avoid a Trip to the Emergency Room:

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
  • Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
  • Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
  • Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children.
  • Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
  • Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.
  • Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
  • Download these NFPA safety tips on Thanksgiving.
  • Download NFPA’s “Kids in the Kitchen” guide for ideas on what different age groups can do around the kitchen as you prepare your holiday meal.
  • NFPA discourages the use of outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers.

Keep Your Plumbing Out of Harms Way Too:

  • Avoid pouring fat or cooking oil down the drain. Liquid fats easily solidify in the pipes and create clogs. One easy tip is to create a liner made out of aluminum foil and put it in a coffee cup. Drain fat into the aluminum cup and simply throw the aluminum away after the fat congeals.
  • Never put stringer or fibrous waste into the garbage disposer (poultry skins, carrots, celery, pumpkin pulp or banana peels). The disposer can’t grind these items well and they will clog your sink drain. Also try to avoid putting starches like potatoes, pasta, rice. These items expand when they come in contact with water and you will quickly have a clog on your hands.
  • Run cold water down the drain for about 15 seconds before and after using the garbage disposer to flush waste down the main line.
  • Turn on the disposer before adding food debris.
  • Run the dishwasher and washing machine at night or at off times to conserve hot water and maintain adequate water pressure for your guests.
  • Clean your garbage disposal by grinding up a lemon and 3 tablespoons of baking soda for 1 minute.

Follow these tips to avoid a Thanksgiving Day fire and plumbing crisis. For more plumbing and safety information, visit us on our website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

6 Things to Never Put Down Your Garbage Disposal

Thanksgiving is abundant in family time, festivities, and most importantly – food! In fact, some of us may spend the greater part of the holiday in the kitchen, preparing savory dishes and deserts.

While your friends and family members may enjoy the assortment of things you have so carefully prepared, your plumbing might not. When it comes time to throw away the remainder of your food, be smart as to what goes down the disposal.

6 Thing to Never Put Down Your Disposal (2)

Did you know that the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for plumbers? It’s because of all the junk that people put down their garbage disposals on Thanksgiving Day. You wouldn’t put money down your garbage disposal, so why would you put other things down it that will cost you upwards of several hundred dollars to fix?

Since we like to sleep in and enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with our families too, we are going to offer you some friendly advice about how to prevent disastrous clogs in your drains and garbage disposals:

1.) Grease/Oil

Avoid putting any grease, fats, or oils down your garbage disposal. Grease and oil accumulates on the sides of your pipes, eventually causing a very costly clog. Your wallet and pipes will thank you for not doing so.

After using grease, wait for it to cool down a little and then pour it into a jar or can, which you can later throw in the trash.

2.) Fibrous Foods

Your green been casserole, onion peels, some lettuce, corn husks, kale, asparagus, and other Thanksgiving side dishes are hard for your garbage disposal to break down, especially in large quantities. Put these food items in the trash or compost.

3.) Peels

Whether you’re preparing loaded baked potatoes, a hash-brown casserole or plain ole’ mashed potatoes, keep the peels out of the garbage disposal! The starch from potatoes and potato peels can turn into a “thick paste,” which may cause the blades to stick.

4.) Bones

Avoid putting large animal bones down the garbage disposal. Your disposal is just not strong enough to handle them! However, small bones, and we do mean small, can go down your drain.

5.) Eggshells

Thanksgiving is a time where there are more pies than there are people. And you can’t make a pie without eggs. So whether you’ve prepared chocolate pies or cherry pies, make sure to avoid placing eggshells down your disposal. The inner membrane can actually get caught up in the disposal’s blades and the shell can get ground into a sand-like substance that gets stuck in the trap.

6.) Pits & Seeds

What do peach cobbler, cherry pie and apple pie have in common? Pits and seeds! Unless you want your disposal to be a DIY pinball machine, we recommend keeping these out of your disposal! For a fresh-smelling scent, put lemon and lime wedges down your disposal.

Here are a couple of things that you can, and probably should put down your garbage disposal:

  • Putting ice cubes down your disposal will help sharpen the blades.
  • Always run cold water down the disposal whenever the disposal is on.
  • Put lemon or other citrus peels/wedges down the disposal to help get rid of bad scents. Only a little at a time though.

For a recap, here is a video from ABC 15:

Despite all the precautions you take, you might still experience plumbing problems. Things just happen sometimes. In the unfortunate case of a plumbing problem, pick up the phone and call the experts at Boulden Brothers Home Services at (302) 368-3848.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, and Twitter for more useful information and advice for maintaining a safe and efficient home.

Everyone here at Boulden Brothers wishes you a safe, warm, and clog-free Thanksgiving.

Preventing Clogged Drains

In previous posts, we talked about the problems caused by clogged drains and some of the possible solutions. Now, let’s focus on some easy steps everyone can take to avoid clogs from occurring in the first place.

  1. Watch what you flush.

Only waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Other objects can cause clogs or buildup in the line.

Young children tend to flush foreign objects down the toilet. They should be educated and properly supervised on toilet usage so they don’t flush anything that will cause problems.

  1. Clear out the buildup.

We recommend regular use of BioSmart to clear out sludge and buildup. This product will eat through organic material (like hair) over time and keep the line clear of obstruction. Of course, BioSmart will not help if inorganic foreign objects are obstructing the line. BioSmart is EPA approved, so the bacteria in the product is naturally occurring and safe for use in the plumbing system. While not advisable, accidental skin contact or ingestion of BioSmart is non-toxic.

Other chemical drain cleaners available for purchase at the supermarket are not recommended. These acidic chemicals are toxic if they are ingested or if they come in contact with the skin. Additionally, they will cause the pipes to wear over time and could shorten their lifespan. The worst case scenario from regular use of chemical cleaners would be holes in the pipe, leading to slow leaks in the walls or ceilings.

Whereas BioSmart can be used regularly for maintenance of the system, harsher chemical drain cleaners are used to deal with the acute problem and should not be used on a regular basis.

  1. Don’t dump grease down the sink.

Grease is a big problem because it can build up over time, slowly restricting drain flow. It’s a good idea not to drain leftover grease from foods with high fat content (such as bacon).

  1. Get professional help.

If you notice slow drainage, lingering smell, or any unusual issues with your plumbing, give us a call so we can check it out. It’s better to have professional help fix the problem early, before it leads to something more expensive and inconvenient.

The first thing that we will do is restore flow to the system by clearing the line. Then, we will send our camera down into the line if possible to get a better look at the problem. We will look on a case by case basis to determine exactly what the problem is and what your options are to get it properly fixed.

If you’d like to learn more about proactive solutions such as BioSmart that you can use in order to prevent household calls, give us a call today.

5 Home Heating Tips to Stay Warm All Winter

As cold fronts continue to grip the nation, here are some home heating tips to stay warm and cozy all winter long.

5-Home-Heating-Tips-for-the-Holidays-(2)

Who doesn’t have fond memories of curling up by a fire with a book (or tablet)? Rather than getting sad and blue about the cold weather, take joy in the fact that you can now put on your wool and fleece clothing, cuddle up for warmth, and relax by the fire.

Light a Fire (or Candles)

If you have a fireplace, use it, but make sure that it has been inspected and cleaned within the last year. If you want to inspect the chimney yourself, make sure:

  • the flue damper is working properly by testing to see if it opens, closes, and seals.
  • while the damper is fully open, use a flashlight and mirror to inspect the flue for a buildup of soot and creosote, as well as any animal remnants or other foreign objects.
  • do a rough visual inspection, inside and out, to determine if there are is any damage that could pose a problem.
  • when in use, the damper should always be fully open. Do not close the damper until the fire is fully out and there are no embers left. Leaving the damper open when the fireplace is not in use is like having a large window open in your house. You can save up to 30% on your home heating costs by making sure that air isn’t escaping up your chimney. If your damper doesn’t fit properly, consider replacing it.

If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always use candles to create one. You can buy Woodwick candles that make the crackling sound of a fireplace.

 

RibbonWick

 

Use Rugs to Cover Up Cold Floors

There’s nothing better than sinking your toes in a nice lush rug. Puts thick rugs down on the sides of your bed so you never have to wake up to freezing feet again.

shutterstock_224639506

Bundle Up

Use Snuggies, robes, wool socks, sweaters, sweatpants, onesies, pajamas, and other warm items to wrap yourself up in. Winter clothing is essential for keeping home heating costs down. In the bedroom, use a thick duvet cover and warm the insides with a hot water bottle.

hot-watter-bottleKrissa Curran

Bundle Up Your Attic, Basement, and Water Heater Too

You can find out what kind of insulation your home as from energy.gov. Also, from energy.gov, check all of the following areas for potential leaks:

where_to_insulate

Examples of where to insulate. 1. In unfinished attic spaces, insulate between and over the floor joists to seal off living spaces below. (1A) attic access door 2. In finished attic rooms with or without dormer, insulate (2A) between the studs of “knee” walls, (2B) between the studs and rafters of exterior walls and roof, (2C) and ceilings with cold spaces above. (2D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 3. All exterior walls, including (3A) walls between living spaces and unheated garages, shed roofs, or storage areas; (3B) foundation walls above ground level; (3C) foundation walls in heated basements, full wall either interior or exterior. 4. Floors above cold spaces, such as vented crawl spaces and unheated garages. Also insulate (4A) any portion of the floor in a room that is cantilevered beyond the exterior wall below; (4B) slab floors built directly on the ground; (4C) as an alternative to floor insulation, foundation walls of unvented crawl spaces. (4D) Extend insulation into joist space to reduce air flows. 5. Band joists. 6. Replacement or storm windows and caulk and seal around all windows and doors. Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Although, this one is not really a small project, if you really want to save on your energy bills, you will need to insulate your home. If you do make major insulation changes, call your trusted HVAC professional to assess the ventilation balance of your system.

Install and Set Programmable Thermostat

shutterstock_92965054

A programmable thermostat will allow you to automatically lower or raise the temperature of your home during specific times of the day. If you are going to bed or are away from your house, we suggest setting your thermostat for 68 degrees or lower.

Remember, for every degree you lower your thermostat, you can save up to 5% on your heating costs.

The Furnace

  • The best thing you can do for your furnace and for your home heating efficiency is to schedule maintenance every year. Some warranties even require it, and a yearly check-up ensures that your system is working properly and at its maximum efficiency.
  • Replace furnace filters every 1-3 months, depending on your filter. Some filters just need to be cleaned with a garden hose, while others get replaced entirely. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the package and make sure you are inserting the filter correctly.
  • Advances in HVAC technology has made it so furnaces and air conditioners are more efficient and cost-productive than they have ever been. If you have a furnace or air conditioner that is older than 14 years and isn’t working properly or costing you more money than you can keep up with, definitely consider purchasing a new HVAC system.

Other things to check include your air quality system, your ventilation system and anything used to heat or cool food in the kitchen – all of which may be less efficient than you might like.

If you have any further questions on how to save money and energy on home heating this winter, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.

Visit us on our websiteFacebook, and Twitter or give us a call at (302) 368-3848. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.

Identifying Household Drain Clogs

Not only can clogs in home drain systems become a very expensive problem, but they can also be a huge inconvenience and end up creating an enormous mess. Some slow leaks are practically unnoticeable, causing unseen damage over a long period of time. In other cases, backed up toilets, tubs, or showers risk causing considerable water damage.

Common Signs & Causes

If every drain in the house is experiencing slow water drainage, this is a sign of tree roots that have grown into the outside pipes. Once roots migrate into the pipes, they will reduce flow to the sewer line in the street. This is a gradual occurrence that worsens over time—instead of waiting until the roots have caused significant problems, homeowners should act immediately when they notice that drainage throughout the home has noticeably decreased.

If there is a localized stoppage that only affects one sink, bathtub, or toilet, this indicates that there is probably buildup, debris, or a foreign object that is obstructing the fixture. As opposed to root blockage, this problem will only affect a single fixture in the house.

If the restroom sink is experiencing drainage problems, this often occurs due to buildup of personal hygiene products such as soap or toothpaste. Many of these items have waxes and other ingredients that will build up on the interior of the lines.

Identifying the Issue

The first and most important step is to correctly identify the issue. Boulden Brothers has the technology to spot the problem, whatever and wherever it may be. Clearing the drain with a drain cleaning machine is a crucial next step to restore flow and make room for us to send a camera down into the affected area.

The camera will allow us to make a close inspection of the interior of the line, giving a bird’s eye view of exactly what is going on. As long as there is an access point at the house and/or one at the street, we should be able to get a clear view of the entire line.

Once we know exactly what caused the issue, we will develop possible courses of action to fix the problem. If it’s a localized drain problem (e.g., a clogged restroom sink), it may be as simple as replacing the P-trap.

In upcoming posts, we’ll cover some of the many options available to homeowners that not only solve their drainage problems, but prevent them from occurring as well.

If you’re noticing a stopped up fixture or slowed drainage throughout your entire home, give us a call today.

How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

The Northeast and Southeast were hit with record low temperatures and early snowfalls this weekend, making it obvious that winter is coming a little early this year (Accuweather).

howtopreventfrozenpipes

You may think that you have no problems with your plumbing system, but when the temperatures drop to freezing temperatures, which has already been happening in many parts of the country, the water in your pipes can freeze. Anyone who has ever exploded a can or glass bottle in the freezer knows firsthand how otherwise stable objects can explode due to the fact that liquid expands when it freezes.

The same principle applies to pipes. Even though your pipes are in great shape, the added pressure that is created when water freezes is enough to cause a tiny crack which can quickly escalate into a full force explosion of water.

Next to hurricanes, frozen or broken water pipes damage more homes in the U.S. than anything else. The average homeowner insurance claim from burst pipe is just around $5,0000 (HouseLogic). To reduce the risk of pipes freezing and breaking, follow our tips and advice before it is too late. You don’t want to wait until temperatures drop to below freezing to form a plan.

Before the IcePocalyse (Preventative Measures):
  • Locate and become friends with your water shut-off valve. You will want to be familiar with this in case you run into a problem with broken pipes. 
    • Your main shut-off valve is located near your water meter, if you know where that is. If you don’t know where either is, don’t wait until water is flooding your house to find it. If there is ever a leak in your home, you can become the home hero by running to your water shut-off valve and turning it off before further damage occurs.
    • Your water meter and shut-off valve can be located in one of several places. 1.) If you have a basement and crawlspace, the water valve might be located somewhere in the basement near the front of the house. 2.) If your house is located on a slab, look around your water heater or garage. 3.) If you cannot find the valve inside the home, the next place to look is outside. Most water meters and valves are located near the front curb of your house, underneath a concrete lid, buried underground. If you have any trouble locating your water meter and shut-off valve, give your Boulden Brothers plumber a call and they will help you find it or stop by to shut the water off for you.
    • The main shut-off valve is usually a gate valve, but in newer homes it might be a ball valve.
    • Brass_Gate_Valve-shut-off-2-268
    • If your meter box is located in that concrete box outside of your home, you may need to purchase a meter key from your local home improvement store to be able to turn the valve. If it is an emergency, you may be able to use a flathead screwdriver and adjustable wrench in its place. Remember the old adage, “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey.” If you have a ball valve, turn the handle clockwise until it is perpendicular to the pipe. Once you have shut off the water to your house, look at the water meter. The needle and leak indicator should have stopped moving, indicating that water is no longer moving through your water meter.
    • Now that you know where your water shut-off valve is, you won’t look like a chicken with its head cut off the next time you have a leak in your house. You’ll know exactly where to go and what to do and everybody will love you for it.
  • If you leave your home for more than a day, make sure you set the thermostat at or above 55°F. It is not worth the risk of a broken pipe to try and save a couple dollars on your heating bill.
  • Open cabinet doors in bathroom and kitchen to allow warm to air circulate around your plumbing. If there are freezing temperatures outside and you have pipes located in cabinets and cupboards, open them to circulate warm air, especially if the pipes in question are next to an exterior wall.
  • If the temperature remains freezing for a long time, let faucets drip water slowly. This relieves pressure from the pipes and activates both your cold and hot lines (warm setting), which helps prevents pipes from freezing and breaking.
During the IcePocalypse (Thawing a Frozen Pipe):
  • If you turn on the faucet and the water is barely trickling out or isn’t flowing at all, it is likely that you have a frozen pipe. You can find out which pipe is frozen because it normally covered in frost.
  • Keep faucets open. As your frozen pipe begins to melt, the water and steam will run through the frozen area. The running water will help prevent pressure build-up when you are attempting to thaw your pipes.
  • There are several safe ways to apply heat to a frozen pipe. 1.) Perhaps the best way to thaw your pipe is to insulate the frozen section of your pipe with a thick towel and run hot water over it. 2.) You can also use an electric heating pad to wrap around the pipe.  3.) Another easy, but more time-consuming process, is to use an electric hair dryer, portable space heater, or heat lamp to thaw the frozen section. 4.) Home improvement stores sell heat tape that can be used on frozen pipes to quickly thaw the problem area. Whatever you do, Do NOT use any kind of open flame to thaw your frozen pipes. It will potentially damage your pipes and start a fire.
  • If you are unable to thaw your pipes, or you are in need of further assistance, call the plumbing experts at Boulden Brothers Home Services. 

Watch this video if you want a recap of what we went over:

If you have any further questions on dealing with frozen pipes, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers. We don’t want you to have to call us for expensive plumbing repairs because of frozen pipes!

Visit us on our website, Facebook, and Twitter or give us a call at (302) 368-3848. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you might have.