Frozen Pipe Tips

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When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.

 To Avoid Frozen Pipes

1. Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected during freezing temperatures, water in hoses will freeze and expand, causing connecting faucets and pipes to freeze and break.

2. Inspect outside faucets. If dripping or leaking, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before a freeze.

3. If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from the pipes.

4. Cover outside faucets using an inexpensive faucet insulation kit.

5. Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Apply foam pipe sleeves, heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around exposed pipes.

6. Make sure your furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees during the winter to prevent pipes from freezing. Note that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds, causing cracks, whether the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. A tiny crack can unleash 250 gallons of water in a day.

7. Your water heater works harder during winter months. Drain corrosion-causing sediment from the tank, which reduces energy efficiency.

8. Set the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees for optimum performance without risk of scalding.

9. Clear any leaves and debris from roof gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage throughout the winter season.

10. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

 To Thaw Frozen Pipes

1.  If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

2.  Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.

3.  Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.

4.  Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

5.  Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

 Future Protection

1.  Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

2.  Close off any openings in your foundation that may allow cold air access to your pipes.

3.  Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.

4.  For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.