Pipes are made from various materials and most will react differently to environmental conditions. Materials include:
- Cast Iron
- ductile iron
- pre-stressed concrete asbestos cement
- non-rigid plastic
- galvanized steel
Though a couple of these substances are no longer used to manufacture pipes they can likely still be found in use around the globe and most are susceptible to old man winter and his cold, harsh temperatures.
Extremely cold temperatures cause water in pipes to freeze. This causes pipes to expand and eventually burst. Regardless of the material, many pipes will become stressed in extreme conditions so it’s important to keep them protected in these conditions, especially if they are exposed. You should start to become concerned about your pipes freezing when temperatures drop below 20°F and the pipes are either outside and not insulated or if they are indoors and exposed to cold winds.
It’s not just frozen water that can cause cold temperatures to inhibit the functionality of pipes. Air flow can become a problem if temperatures fall below a certain point preventing critical ventilation for some very important machines. A nuclear power plant in the Midwest was susceptible to such a fate last winter when the possibility of cold temperatures threatened to shut down operations for several days, potentially causing the facility a loss of millions.
Fortunately there are some solutions available that can help prevent broken pipes, protect your investments, and provide peace of mind. Several types of insulating sleeves are available and covering pipes with insulation is always a good idea. There are also some products on the market that offer heated pipe warmers as solutions as well.
Keeping your investments protected is crucial. Knowing the environmental conditions and how to combat them are key to keeping your pipes safe and providing a restful nights sleep.