Preventing Frozen Pipes
When the weather turns frigid (which we’ve already experienced this season), there is a risk that your pipes can freeze and burst. This can lead to thousands of dollars of damage, as well as inconvenience. Pipes most at risk are those in unheated spaces such as basements, attics and garages, as well as those that are exposed to exterior walls.
But there are things you can do to prevent pipes from both freezing and bursting. You should consider these whenever the temperature hits 20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
Here are some hints on keeping your pipes from freezing:
- Keep your garage door closed at all times (you should be doing this anyway for security reasons) to prevent cold air from entering it.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so the warm air from the house can circulate around the pipes behind the cabinets, especially those near exterior walls.
- Let cold water trickle from faucets near exposed pipes. Yes if will add to your water bill, but a small price to pay to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
- If you are away from home, make sure your thermostat is NEVER set below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Insulate the pipes. Purchase an insulation kit at your local hardware store. The most common and easiest to install is tubular foam that is slit lengthwise to slip over existing pipes.
- Longer term, insulate unheated areas such as basements, attics and crawl spaces to limit the amount of cold air coming in.
If your pipes are already frozen, (which you can notice if only a trickle of water is coming out) there are a few things you can do to prevent the pipes from bursting.
- Turn on the faucet so as the ice melts, water can flow through. Running water through the pipe will help melt the ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe with an electric hair dryer or by wrapping the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. Do not use any device with an open flame.
- Apply the heat until full water pressure is restored. Then check all the other faucets in your home, because if one pipe froze others may have as well.
Finally, if the pipe has already burst, shut off the main water supply to limit the damage. And then call a plumber.
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