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What Can Happen When Frozen Pipes Thaw?

burst pipe

What Happens When Pipes Freeze?

Pipes will likely freeze when the temperature drops to 32°F or below and become even more likely to freeze when the temperature gets to 20°F or below. When pipes freeze, there is a chance that your pipes could potentially burst as a result of cracks caused by the freezing. When your pipes have been exposed to freezing temperatures for multiple hours, it increases the chance that your pipes could burst. Burst pipes are a serious problem and can lead to even more damage in your home including water damage that can cause even more issues such as mold, high utility bills and fluctuating water pressure. Even a single frozen pipe that bursts can cause thousands of dollars in damage.

What Happens When Frozen Pipes Thaw?

When the water freezes, it expands and can split or break the pipes. This can cause a major problem when the pipes thaw. When they thaw, the water at full pressure comes through and can flood your home which can cause significant further damage.

With temperatures expected above freezing, remember to do the following to minimize any possible damage from frozen pipes or other winter plumbing problems:

  • Stay home if you can and be alert for the sound of running water. If you can’t stay home, turn off your water until you return.
  • Make sure you know where to turn off the water to the whole house.  Just a couple of minutes of water coming from a broken pipe can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
  • If you have shut-off valves that can isolate the area where the frozen pipes are, turn them off as soon as possible.
  • If you suspect a pipe has burst, it is best to call in a plumber as soon as possible to mitigate any damage to your home.

Will Frozen Pipes Thaw On Their Own?

If your pipes freeze, you may consider just waiting for your pipes to thaw and unfreeze themselves. While pipes can naturally thaw over time, there are a lot of issues that arise from this risky method. Depending on the weather and climate in your area, pipes can take a long time to unfreeze themselves. Frozen pipes will not unthaw unless the outside temperature rises above freezing for multiple hours – even up to six hours in total. Additionally, the melted water can simply freeze over again and cause further damage to the pipes, resulting in costly repairs.

Pipes can also burst when they freeze or after they thaw. So while your plumbing can naturally thaw, it is a dangerous gamble. Instead of waiting for pipes to naturally unthaw, it is better to deal with frozen pipes as soon as possible by receiving a plumbing service from a reliable plumbing company like Ranck Plumbing, heating & Air Conditioning.

Methods to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

Fortunately, there are some proactive measures you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place. Some of the best tips to prevent pipes from freezing include:

  • Letting Water Drip: Running some hot and cold water at a slow rate can help keep the temperature of your pipes higher to prevent freezing. The best way to do this is to let warm water drip overnight to keep the pipes warm and avoid overnight freezing.
  • Insulate Your Pipes: Another method is to install pipe insulation where your pipes are exposed and susceptible to freezing. Insulating your hot water pipes can also reduce heat loss and make your water heating more efficient! The most common form of pipe insulation is foam tubing that encases the pipes. It is generally the most inexpensive option and it is easy to install.
  • Use Heat Tape or Heat Cables: Heat tape and heat cables can be used to wrap around pipes and keep both the pipes and water warm to prevent freezing. Heat cables rely on electrical currents to assist in raising the temperature of pipes, so make sure to use products that have been tested and strictly follow all manufacturer installation instructions.
  • Seal Air Leaks: If you have leaks that let cold air into your house, it can increase the chances of your pipes freezing over. Find any leaks that could be letting cold air in and thoroughly seal them throughout your home. You can most often find these air leaks around your pipes or any electrical work. Most times, you can use caulk or plaster to quickly cover any leaks!
  • Adjust Your Thermostat: Variations in your thermostat settings can increase the risk of frozen pipes. A good rule of thumb is to set your thermostat to a consistent temperature during the day and night, particularly when the weather is especially cold.

Contact Ranck Plumbing, Heating & AC in Lancaster, PA

If you believe you have a burst pipe, we have emergency services available to send a plumber to your home as soon as possible. Call us at 717-397-2577  or contact us online to schedule an appointment!

Efficiency Standards


When your air conditioning goes on the blink again this year and you tell our technicians that you want to get one more season from it, you may actually be spending more accumulatively year after year than you would have if you had gotten a new unit sooner. The reason this is true is that you may have been saying, “Just one more cooling season” for the last several years, and you have been running an outdated, energy inefficient system.

Maybe it’s time to consider a change. If you are like most consumers, the first step is to learn what is available. When you start the search, you will start seeing terms like SEER and HSPF. What do they mean, and why are they important? In this blog, I’m going to try and present what these and other terms mean and more importantly how they can affect energy efficiency, but I’m going to say it in layman’s terms.

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a cooling efficiency rating for heat pumps and air conditioners. This takes into account the change in the season and how it impacts the efficiency of the equipment during these climate changes. The higher the SEER, the less it costs you to operate. This number is good to look at, however, doesn’t paint the full picture of the actual efficiency of the system.

HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) like SEER, a heating efficiency rating for heat pumps that calculate the efficiency of a heat pump system over the changes in climate. Again, the higher the HSPF, the less it costs you to run. This is an important number for customers to consider. Even though the temperature is getting hotter now, we are in more of a heating climate, than a cooling climate. A higher HSPF rating will pay back faster than a high EER number, as we need more heating than cooling in our area.

EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) Cooling efficiency rating. This rating reflects the ratio of energy spent to run the equipment vs. the amount of cooling it will provide.

COP (Coefficient Of Performance) $1.00 spent to run a heat pump, $4.00 worth of heat/cooling is given, this would be a COP rating of 4. I like to use this to help illustrate why heat pump systems are a great alternative to an electric baseboard, ceiling cable heat, or other resistant electric heat sources. Electric resistant heat (electric baseboard, electric ceiling cable heat, electric space heaters, toasters, etc.) all have a COP rating of 1. $1.00 spent=$1.00 worth of heat delivered. Most geothermal systems have a COP rating of anywhere from 3.5 to 4.5.

If you have questions or would like to speak to one of our Energy Specialists, give us a call at 717-397-2577, or contact us using our online contact form. There has never been a better time to purchase a new energy-efficient system with our special financing for 60 months with approved credit.

Financing Made Easier

value and price words written by 3d man

Upgrading the mechanical systems in your home can be stressful, not to mention a strain on the family budget. Our goal is to reduce the stress level by making the purchase easier to afford.

Since up to 70% of all home improvement projects over $2,500.00 are financed, it’s important for financing to be accessible. That’s why we have teamed up with Wells Fargo and Citi bank to provide financing options, with approved credit, for all home improvement projects over $500.00.

We now offer 18 month special financing with approved credit on water heaters, water conditioners, pumps, garbage disposals and more. For new HVAC systems, we offer special financing for 48 or 60 months with approved credit on selected systems.

The process involves only a few simple steps:

  1. Click here or on the “Financing Options” box in the lower right corner of our home page and select either Option 1 or Option 2.
  2. Fill out the application forms, which offer a quick confirmation. When you are approved, we will receive notice of the amount that is approved.
  3. Schedule your installation appointment with Ranck.

Our goal is to make your experience with us as stress free and rewarding as possible. Feel free to contact us with any questions that you may have, as you consider the financing options that are available to you.

Ductwork Sealing

Ductwork SealingeditedDuct Sealing in Lancaster, PA & Beyond

Ductwork sealing, at first glance, may appear to be insignificant and a low priority. When you realize that you could be losing 20%-30% of your conditioned(heated or cooled) air that moves through your duct system, you may want to sit up and take notice. It could be costing you several hundred dollars or more each year in wasted energy.

All ductwork will have some leakage at some of the many connecting points throughout your system. There may even be some additional holes or cracks that you can’t see. The older the ductwork, the more chances of leakage. If the ductwork is located in an unconditioned space like an attic, basement, or crawlspace, that can increase the problem. If the leakage is on the return air side, you are sucking in cold air in the winter which makes your system run longer to warm the house. If the leakage is on the supply side, you are paying to heat the attic or crawlspace that you don’t want to heat. In addition, if the leakage is on the return side, you are drawing in dust, moisture, and dirt from the attic, crawlspace, or basement which is not good for your system, and your indoor air quality. If you have ductwork in the garage and it leaks on the return side, in a worst case scenario, you may be drawing toxic Carbon Monoxide in to the ductwork system and distributing it throughout the house.

Why not let our trained technicians at Ranck Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning take care of all your ductwork sealing needs? To seal the ductwork that is visible we apply metal tape (not duct tape) and mastic sealant. We also repair and secure the ductwork and can wrap it for additional insulation and utility savings. We also work with a company that can seal ductwork internally with a system called Aeroseal.

A duct system that is well-designed and properly sealed will make your home safer, more comfortable and more energy efficient so it allows you to feel comfortable while minimizing your utility bills. Contact us today or call us at 717-397-2577 to schedule a service or learn more about ductwork sealing for your home!

Water Heaters and You


Your water heater is something that is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily living. It’s easily taken for granted as we assume that a hot shower in the morning or evening is as much a given in our life as breathing.

You can imagine the panic and urgency in a customer’s voice when they call us after discovering that they have no hot water or the basement floor is wet from a leaking hot water heater. Their world has taken a hit and they have no time for this interruption in their life and are not looking forward to the $$ needed to correct the problem. A few things to ponder regarding your water heater:

1. The typical life of a water heater is 10-15 years, but 5% don’t make it to the 6 year warranty.

2. Your water ph level can affect the life of your water heater. Acidic water or softened water can shorten the water heaters life as they eat away and corrode the anode rod.

3. The anode rod is the “sacrificial lamb” of the water heater. As long as it is in good shape, the water heater won’t leak.

4. You can extend the life of your water heater by having the anode rod checked every couple of years and replaced if it has lost its capacity to protect your water heater.

5. If you have a finished basement a leaking and undetected water heater can cause thousands of dollars of damage. That is one of the reasons you should have someone check your house when you are on vacation.

6. You can have a “Flood Stop” system installed for your water heater which will shut off the water supply to the water heater if it begins to leak.

7. Water heaters come in all shapes and sizes. The most expensive to operate are electric units.  Gas units operate at about 1/3 the cost however everyone doesn’t have gas so a gas unit may not be an option.

8. You can insulate an electric water heater to cut operating costs. Think of a big thermos… so the more insulation the longer it stays hot and the less it runs to maintain temperature. You can insulate it yourself with kits available at hardware stores or just wrap it with vats of fiberglass insulation. Because gas units operate so cheaply and need air for the gas burner to function, it is not cost effective to insulate them.

9. If you need to replace your water heater consider units with a longer warranty then the standard 6 year warranty. Units are available with 8 year, 12 year, and lifetime warranties. The 8 and 12 year heaters are basically the same units but have larger anode rod for the 8 year unit and an additional anode rod for the 12 year unit. These of course are more expensive than the standard unit.

10. “Mercedes” water heaters – as with any purchase – water heaters come with varying features and technology.  Top notch units last longer, operate cheaper, recover more quickly, and are more efficient. Of course, such water heaters do cost $1,000-$2,000 more than standard water heaters. At this price point, we recommend heat pump water heaters (electric) and Eternal water heaters (gas).

These are the main things you need to know about water heaters. If you have more questions or want to discuss upgrading your water heater, please contact us.

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