Extreme Cold – Are Your Pipes Susceptible to Freezing?
With our extreme cold temperatures, we are seeing a lot of pipes freezing and broken water mains both inside and out. When water freezes it expands, putting pressure on whatever is containing it – the result of a broken pipe or water main could be devastating.
All it takes to help keep this from happening is a little preparation. We would like to share with you some insight on how to keep pipes from freezing and how to thaw them safely if they do.
Which Pipes Are Most Likely to Freeze?
Any pipes that are exposed to severe cold can freeze. These would include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines and water sprinkler lines outside. Indoors there are also many areas that may expose pipes to freezing. Unheated areas such as basements & crawl spaces, attic, garages, and even kitchen cabinets. (I am sure we have all experienced that cold dinner plate coming out!) Also, any pipes that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation may freeze and burst.
Some Ways to Prevent Pipes from Freezing.
Drain water from pools & sprinklers but do not use antifreeze unless directed to by the manufacturer. Remove, drain and store outdoor hoses being sure to close the valves supplying outdoor bibs. Open these outdoor bibs to allow water to drain. Insulate attics, basements and crawl spaces. You may also want to insulate pipes in cold areas such as your garage and under your cabinets.
In extreme cold weather, let water drip from the faucet. This may seem unusual but even a trickle of water can help prevent your pipes from freezing. Opening cabinet doors and leaving your home’s heat setting at a steady temperature will also help prevent frozen pipes. Most of us are concerned about our heating bills being too high but a burst water pipe is much costlier than a higher heating bill. Also, if you are planning to be away from your home for more than a few days make sure you have a competent person coming in to check on your home’s heating system and to make sure there are no issues with frozen pipes.
What If Your Pipes Freeze?
Despite our best efforts, sometimes the inevitable happens. If you turn on the water and nothing comes out suspect frozen pipes. If this is the case, there are SAFE ways to thaw them and keep your family safe.
Apply heat using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe or an electric hair dryer or portable space heater. (Be sure to keep this away from any flammable materials.) You may also wrap the pipes in towels soaked in HOT water.
DO NOT USE A BLOW TORCH, KEROSENE OR PROPANE HEATER, CHARCOAL STOVE OR ANY OTHER OPEN FLAME DEVICE. THIS HAS BEEN KNOWN TO CAUSE DEVASTATING FIRES AND LOSSES.
Check all your pipes; if one is frozen there may be more. Apply the heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate or access your pipes or cannot thaw them, call a licensed plumber.
Please be safe in this extreme cold. Make sure you are protected from the elements both inside and out.