Could it get any colder? (Don’t answer that…)
With the cold weather happening around here, you should take preventative measures to make sure the pipes in your home stay warm and keep the water running.
Although some of these steps may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, the extra expense is much better than the repair bill if your pipes do freeze!
1. Keep your garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
2. Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. (If you have small children, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)
3. If you have a faucet served by exposed pipes, let the cold-water drip. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.
4. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night.
5. If you plan to be away during the cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Thinking long term… Add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. This will help maintain higher temperatures in those areas. As well as prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.
If your pipes are frozen…
1. Turn on the faucet. As you heat the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through. Running water (no matter how cold) through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
2. Apply heat. You can use an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Although tempting, do not use a blowtorch, a kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame. The high heat can damage the pipes and may even start a fire.
3. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
4. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.