Should You Use Space Heaters To Prevent Frozen Plumbing Pipes This Winter?

Posted on: 29 January 2016

To keep your plumbing pipes from freezing, you may choose to use old space heaters this winter. Although space heaters can help warm up your home and family, using them inappropriately can actually place your family and home at risk for fires and other hazards. Here's why you shouldn't use space heaters to prevent frozen plumbing pipes in your home and things you should do instead.

Are Old Space Heaters Really That Dangerous?

If you plan to place old space heaters near or around the sinks in your kitchen, bathroom or basement to keep the pipes warm, you might want to reconsider doing so. Although most advanced space heaters come with special devices that turn the heaters off when they become too hot or fall over, some older heaters may not perform this function. Some heaters use a great deal of electrical energy to operate, especially if they're old or too outdated to work efficiently. The extra strain placed on the heaters may cause the electrical power or wires in your home to overheat.

You should also avoid placing your space heaters near materials that can combust or ignite easily, such as spray paint and wood. Keep in mind that some of the cabinetry in your home may contain sealants and other chemicals that inflame easily. Even if you remove every flammable and combustible material from the home, you may still be at risk because of your cabinets. 

You may also notice that the wood or vinyl surfaces of your sinks' cabinetry feels hot to the touch.The materials may burn slowly and produce harmful chemicals into the home that trigger respiratory problems. Young children, older adults and even pets may experience a number of symptoms that include wheezing, vomiting and lethargy. 

You can keep your plumbing, family and home safe without using space heaters this winter.

What Should You Do Instead to Prevent Frozen Plumbing Pipes?

The best way to prevent frozen plumbing pipes is to protect your entire home against cold weather. Check the outside of the house for loose siding, gutters and shingles, then have a professional contractor replace or repair these issues immediately. Look for holes and other perforations in the foundation of the home. Drafts of cold air can enter the holes and overcome the heat circulating through your home.

If necessary, hire a professional plumber to examine your plumbing system's vent stack for issues, such as blockages and cracks. The vent stack is the part of the system that releases gases out of the sewer lines of the home and allows fresh air to enter the plumbing system. The fresh air pushes water through the plumbing pipes inside the walls, ceiling and flooring, which keeps the water from freezing. If the vent stack clogs up with debris, ice or dead animals, the plumbing pipes can freeze or back up.

You should never try to examine or unclog the vent stack on your own because of it's location. The stack sits in the center or very top of the roof. A professional plumber can access the vent without the risk of slipping or falling from the roof.

After you check and secure the home's exterior, take time to open up the interior doors in the home to allow the heat to flow through to the kitchen and bathroom. If possible, open the sinks' cabinet doors and expose the plumbing pipes inside them to the extra heat flowing through the house. To protect the pipes in your basement, wrap several layers of bubble wrap or foam insulation around them. 

If you need additional help securing your home's plumbing pipes, contact a plumber from a company like Roto-Rooter Sewer & Drain Service