Living in cold areas can be fun and exciting, especially during the holiday season. But when it comes to plumbing systems, it is not always good as you think it is.
Bursting pipes because of freezing temperatures in the midst of your festivities can be a huge problem. This is a common incident that happens in all types of pipes in the winter season, including PEX piping systems. Although this is the case, there are ways to prevent your PEX pipes from freezing to avoid expensive repairs.
PEX pipes provide better performance compared to rigid pipes, such as copper, in freezing temperatures. Here, we are going to discuss the performance of PEX piping systems in cold climates and how to keep your pipes from freezing.
Can PEX Burst From Freezing?
The chemical structure of PEX pipes allows them to have higher flexibility and better pressure capabilities. Since they are flexible, they can expand when ice forms inside the pipes which lowers their chances of breaking.
The strength of the plastic pipe does not change that much in cold temperatures. Although they will freeze under extreme temperatures, they can handle the pressure caused by ice formation longer compared to rigid pipes. Take note, though, that frequent stress can weaken your PEX pipes which increases the chances of leaks and failure.
At What Temperature Do PEX Pipes Freeze?
Generally, cold temperatures of 20° F and lower will cause the formation of ice in your uninsulated water lines which will cause your pipes to freeze. All types of pipes can freeze, regardless of your pipe’s material. However, the ability of your pipe to handle freezing temperatures will be significantly affected by the pipe’s construction material.
Do You Need to Insulate PEX Pipes?
If PEX pipes can withstand freezing temperatures well, then why do you still need to insulate them? This is because PEX pipes are ONLY freeze-resistant. They are NOT freeze-proof. They can still break under extremely cold temperatures, but you can prevent this from happening.
Tips to Prevent PEX Pipes From Freezing
So how do you prevent your PEX pipes from freezing to preserve their strength due to frequent stress? Below are some of the tips you can follow:
#1 Bring in your PEX hose when the temperature becomes too cold.
For temporary piping systems, you can disconnect the PEX hose during cold times to prevent the water inside from freezing and damaging your pipes. Make sure that you store the hose in a warm location.
#2 Consider installing a water monitor.
Installing a water monitor not only helps you keep track of your water usage, but also in determining when your pipes might be at risk. For instance, StreamLabs’ Smart Home Water Monitor can detect the following:
- Your daily water usage
- Leaky pipes
- Appliance failures
- Freezing conditions
- Running toilets
#3 Install a freeze-proof sillcock.
Freeze-proof sillcocks, also known as anti-siphon freeze-proof sillcocks, are designed with water shut-off valves located at their inlet section for freeze resistance. They help in regulating the flow of water in the pipes. You can read this guide on how to install a frost-free sillcock.
#4 Drain the pipes completely.
Drain the whole plumbing system of your home to prevent leftover water from freezing inside the pipes. Do this in your vacation homes or if your home is unoccupied or unheated. Make sure to turn off your main water line before opening all of your faucets to allow the water inside the pipes to drain.
#5 Allow your indoor faucets to drip.
Turning an indoor faucet on and letting it drip during very cold times helps keep the water inside the pipes flowing. This prevents sitting water in the pipes from freezing and reduces the risk of bursting pipes when ice forms inside.
#6 Add insulation to your home as well as to your PEX pipes.
You can prevent your PEX pipes from freezing and getting damaged by adding insulation to your basements, garages, attics, walls, windows, door cracks, and others. We also recommend insulating the parts of your pipe that are often exposed to extreme temperatures. Below are a few tips when insulating PEX pipes:
- Use foam to insulate PEX pipes. Foam is the most popular insulation material for PEX pipes because they are flexible. This allows them to work well with non-linearly-shaped objects such as PEX pipes.
- Clean the pipes using a wet rag before wrapping them in foam.
- Seal the PEX tubes completely by using insulation tape on the foam insulation’s ends.
#7 Keep room temperatures at 55° F or above.
When the outdoor temperature drops below 20° F, set your thermostat to at least 55° F especially if you will be away for quite some time. Also, set your thermostat to the same temperature whether it is daytime or nighttime.
- Cover air vents in installation areas to help keep your pipes warmer.
- If you installed PEX pipes behind your bathroom and kitchen cabinets, open them.
- For PEX pipes in your garage, you can retain heat inside by keeping the doors closed.
- Do not expose your pipes to the sunlight for too long (the limit is approximately 30 days). The sun’s heat will cause plastic PEX pipes to become brittle and break under pressure.
- Are you still in the process of designing your home’s plumbing system? Route all your PEX pipes through the interior walls as much as possible.
Are Your PEX Pipes Already Damaged? Repair Them With Tubomart’s Commercial-Grade PEX Pipes and Fittings!
If your PEX pipes have already been damaged due to the freezing temperature and thawing cannot fix it, Tubomart’s PEX pipes and fittings are your best options. Our various PEX fittings can make your repairs quicker and easier to help you prevent your pipes from freezing in the future. We offer various PEX fittings such as PEX compression, press, crimp, sliding (Spanish and Russian-style), and push fittings.