Preventing Frozen Pipes

— Written By

When temperatures drop below freezing – especially for a significant amount of time – the potential for frozen pipes increases dramatically.

Before cold weather hits, here are some precautionary steps you can take:

  • Know where and how to shut off your water from the main shut-off valve.
  • Seal air leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep in.
  • Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
  • In exposed or problem areas, you may use heat tape or heat cables to prevent freezing. Make certain they are UL approved and that you follow manufacturers instructions.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside. Consider installing an insulated spigot cover.
  • Turn your faucet on just enough to have constant dripping (for pipes that may be on exterior wall)
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes under a sink.
  • Leave heat on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
  • If you plan to be away from home, have someone check on your house daily.
  • Close foundation vents if the temperature drops below freezing for a significant period of time. Re-open when weather warms.

If pipes freeze:

  • Shut off water valves. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home.
  • Call a plumber to thaw your pipes. Thawing yourself can lead to greater damage and can be a hazard.
  • If your pipes burst, call a plumber and your insurance agent.

Although attempting to thaw pipes yourself is NOT recommended, if you do try to thaw:

  • Do not try to thaw the pipes with an open flame or torch.
  • Do not use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
  • Be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around water.
  • Never start a debris fire to warm pipes.
  • When thawing pipes, always work from the open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.