The temperatures are plummeting and everyone is at risk for frozen and burst pipes, which can cause major damage and cost a bundle to fix. Pipes most likely to freeze are in the unheated areas of your house such as the attic, garage, and basement. Be watchful and check out this handy guide!
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Take some time to implement these simple tips to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Keep garage doors closed. This prevents extra cold air from entering the home and protects any water lines in the garage itself.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors. This will allow the warmer air to touch the plumbing inside. This is especially important if the sink is on an exterior wall.
- Let cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. This may seem counter-intuitive to saving water, but this movement helps prevent freezing!
- Keep the thermostat at a constant temperature. Fluctuations in temperature are more likely to cause freezing.
- Never leave your thermostat below 55° F especially when on vacation.
- Long term solutions include additional insulation and the sealing of cracks around the home.
Signs You May Have Frozen Pipes
How do you know if you have a frozen pipe? Not all pipes burst and the goal is to catch them before you are standing in a pool of frigid water. Once the temperature gets below 32, start watching and applying the tips mentioned above. If you see frost forming on the outside of pipes there is definitely an issue. If the water has stopped running then there is a possibility that ice is the problem, although that is only one possible answer. If you begin to notice a bad smell coming from your pipes, that is another possible sign that your pipes are blocked, potentially with ice.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
- Proceed with caution! Burst pipes are costly and thawing the pipes may cause a flood. We recommend call a licensed plumber to check your system first.
- If there is a broken pipe, be sure and turn off the water main shutoff valve. If there is no broken pipe the water can stay on.
- Turn on the faucet. The ice will begin to melt and water will eventually be allowed to flow.
- You can apply heat to the section of pipe where you suspect there is ice using an electric heating pad, hair dryer, or a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes or even start a fire.
- Continue until full water pressure is restored. Check all faucets in your home to see if you have removed all ice from the system.
- Always call a licensed plumber if you are uncertain, have a burst pipe, cannot access the frozen pipe or if the above steps do not work.
Fore more of our tips on preparing your plumbing and pipes for winter, click here.