Plummeting temperatures have the potential to cause one of the winter’s most common issues--frozen pipes. No matter the material, water pipes can burst, which can cause significant damage to your property. By taking a few precautions, you can prevent frozen pipes.
How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
- When traveling, set your thermostat no lower than 55° F.
- Seal basements and crawl spaces as tightly as possible to keep cold air out.
- Unhook any hoses that are connected to outdoor faucets. Store them indoors or in the garage during the winter. A connected hose with water in it will freeze. As the ice forms it will expand back into your house and break the pipe.
- Look around your home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas to locate the pipes most susceptible to freezing. Consider your options to insulate these piped for better protection.
- If temperatures fall below zero, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow for warmer air to reach the pipes. Let cold water drip from faucets that are susceptible to freezing. Running water through a pipe, even at a trickle, can help prevent pipes from freezing.
If Your Pipes Freeze
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe.
- Make sure to use your home’s master shut-off valve to cut water flow to prevent your pipes from bursting.
- Thawing a frozen pipe without a professional plumber’s advice could lead to serious damage. If you proceed carefully, you may be able to thaw a pipe using heat tape, a hairdryer, a space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or hot water. Never use a blow torch or any type of open flame to thaw pipes.
- When thawing a frozen pipe, open the nearest faucet a quarter-turn. Slowly heat the pipe, and do not overheat it to the point where he water begins to boil or steam forms. With the faucet open this will allow water to flow as the ice melts.
- Inspect your frozen piping. Look for disconnected pipes near solder joints cracked or split pipe or an expanded section of pipe. A plumber will need to replace he damaged section.
- After a frozen pipe is thawed, turn the water back on very slowly while watching carefully for any leaks. Be prepared to shut your water off at the master valve in case of a leak.