It’s that time of year again ladies and gentleman. The snow is on the ground, the temperature is hitting single digits and it’s best to stay indoors under a blanket. One of the biggest problems homeowners face with the cold weather is keeping their pipes from freezing. There’s several steps you can take to avoid having to deal with this costly problem.
If you’re planning to be away from your home for an extended period of time, like a family vacation, keep the heat on in the house to at least 50 degrees. This will help keep everything over freezing. You can also turn all of your faucets on just enough to have them drip slightly to relieve the pressure on the pipes which is ultimately what causes them to burst. Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to expose the plumbing to the warmer air in your home is also helpful. If you have pipes in a colder than normal area like a garage, crawl space or basement, consider adding some foam sleeves for insulation or electric heating tape to keep them warm.
So what do you do if you discover that your pipes are frozen? It’s time to do a little detective work. First, you have to figure out where the frozen pipe is. If only the faucet in the bathroom doesn’t work but other faucets do, you have an area you can rule out. If all of the faucets are non-functional, the main pipes that lead into the home are your most likely culprit. Once you’ve identified your frozen pipe, there’s a few steps you need to take the un-freeze the pipe. First, turn the faucet to on so when the pipe thaws the water has somewhere to go. Make sure you start the thawing process closest to the faucet and work your way backward. Don’t thaw from the blockage itself. That will only make a burst more likely. Use a hair dryer, heat lamp or hot towels to warm the pipe and allow water to start flowing freely again. Never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
In the event that the pipe does wind up bursting, don’t panic. Make sure you immediately shut off the main water valve to your home to avoid flooding your home. Once you’ve turned off the water, call a licensed plumber. They’ll come out and replace the pipes for you and give you some tips to make sure you avoid the problem in the future. Stay warm out there everyone!