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Frozen Pipes in Chicago: Problems and Prevention

    Water pipe with insulation. Frozen pipe prevention

    Anyone who has ever lived in the Chicago area understands how unrelenting the cold winters can be.

    The average daytime temperature is in the mid-30s, but at night the typical temperature is in the mid to low 20s.

    And we usually get around 37 inches of snowfall. So it’s no wonder that frigid weather takes a toll on our property, especially when it freezes our water pipes.

    Because of freezing temperatures, frozen pipes are common in the Chicagoland area. In this article, we’ll discuss what contributes to that and provide you with realistic advice on what you can do and what not to do to make sure your plumbing stays unfrozen all winter.

    Common Reasons for Frozen Pipes

    Several issues contribute to this problem:

    1. Little, Poor, or No Insulation: Many houses and businesses in the Chicago area were built without adequate insulation to withstand frigid winters. Poorly insulated walls and attics let cold air in, putting water pipes at risk. And if a home has cellulose insulation, it deteriorates and should be replaced after 20 years.
    2. Old Buildings: Over half of private homes were built before 1980. Since Chicago is an old town, some neighborhoods are much older. Their older plumbing can be much more susceptible to freezing temperatures.
    3. Wind: Chicago is notorious for its strong winds. They can push freezing air into a home’s nooks and crannies where the plumbing is, making them more vulnerable to freezing and bursting.
    How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
    1. Insulation: For insulation to be effective, every square inch of pipe exposed to cold air in places like attics, basements, and crawl spaces must be covered. Pipe jacketing or sleeves along with heat tape can effectively protect them from freezing.
    2. Seal Leaks: If you feel a draft in your Chicago home, that means air is getting in through a crack or cracks in or around your windows, walls, or doors. Be sure to track down and seal these areas before winter sets in.
    3. Don’t Set the Heat Too Low: To make sure your home is warm enough to discourage frozen pipes, keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, even when you’re not home.
    4. Open Cabinet Doors: When the temperature gets below the 20s, it’s a good idea to open up any cabinets below sinks to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
    5. Let Faucets Drip: Again, when it’s very cold, set your faucets to drip slowly. That’s all that’s needed to relieve pressure and help keep pipes from freezing.
    6. Disconnect Outside Hoses: Water left in hoses can easily freeze and expand, damaging both the hose and the connecting pipe.
    What NOT to Do to Prevent Frozen Pipes
    1. Ignore Water Leaks: Don’t ignore leaks or drips. Taking care of plumbing issues promptly in your Chicago area home can prevent water from collecting and freezing in cold temperatures.
    2. Turn Off the Heat: Even if you go away on vacation, never turn off the heat – unless you wish to return to a water-damaged and ice-covered home.
    3. Thaw Frozen Pipes With Flames: Torches can melt plastic pipes. If any pipes are heated too quickly, they can produce steam inside, causing them to explode, injuring you and causing water damage. Plus, you risk setting your house on fire. Use safer methods like hairdryers or heating pads.
    4. Overlook Outdoor Pipes: All exposed pipes, spigots, and irrigation systems need to be drained and insulated to prevent freezing.
    5. Ignore Weather Forecasts: Never disregard weather forecasts, especially if you’ll be away from home for any length of time. If you know extra cold weather is coming, you can take the added precautions mentioned to protect your property.
    Burst Frozen Pipes Cause Water Damage

    When a frozen pipe breaks, you may not know about it immediately. But once it thaws, water can start leaking into your home or business, causing water damage, mold growth, and potential structural damage. If this happens to your property, call Chicagoland’s broken pipe cleanup and water damage restoration experts, ServiceMaster By Simons. With our expertise and experience in water damage restoration, we’ll ensure that your property will be dried quickly and properly.

    Choose a Trustworthy Company

    ServiceMaster By Simons is a reputable disaster restoration company you can rely on. We’ve been in business for many years and take great pride in serving the expansive Chicago metropolitan area and its surrounding suburbs. Our company stands as the preferred choice in Chicagoland for both commercial and residential disaster restoration services. Our expertise includes Fire Damage Restoration, Water Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation, and Smoke Odor Removal. With a team of highly skilled professionals who are certified by the IICRC, we’re equipped to handle insurance claims of any size. Call 773-376-1110 or contact us online.


    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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