When the weather turns colder, water expands as it freezes and this can put tremendous stress on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Usually pipes that freeze are exposed to severe cold weather, like outdoor hose bibs, water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
Here are a few preventive measures that can help you when temperatures dip below freezing:
- Keep doors and windows to the outside tightly closed.
- Insulate pipes in any unheated or drafty areas. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to keep pipes from freezing.
- Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements.
- Shut off and drain the pipes leading to your outside faucets and/or hose bibs so no water is left to freeze, expand and cause a leak in these lines.
- Know where your main shut off valve is and label it. Minimize the potential for water damage by ensuring that everyone in the household knows how to shut off the water in case of an emergency.
- If a home is vacant, maintaining an inside temperature that will help keep pipes from freezing.
During significant cold snaps, follow these tips:
- Open the cabinets beneath any place with a water supply next to an exterior wall, such as the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
- To prevent your pipes from freezing, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water shut off valve.
- If your pipes freeze, never thaw a pipe with an open flame. You can use a hair dryer on low or a portable heater, but avoid using electrical appliances if there is standing water. Use warm water to soak towels, then wrap the towels around the frozen pipes.
Freezing pipes are one of the most expensive risks homeowners face. Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. Minimize the potential of water damage by ensuring that everyone in the house knows how to shut off the water in an emergency.
If you suspect having a frozen pipe, it is highly recommended that you contact a local plumber of your choice.