In some areas last week, the temperatures dropped below zero, and you probably heard about people having problems with their pipes bursting. Even though we’re in average temperatures this week, frigid weather will return before we know it. Let’s be sure you know what to do to keep this messy problem from happening in your home.
What happens when water freezes in pipes? Water expands when it’s frozen. This expansion causes pressure on the surrounding pipe, causing the pipe to crack or break. Pipes that run along or are close to the outside of the house, such as those under kitchen cabinets, above crawlspaces, or in basements and attics, are vulnerable to freezing.
How can you prevent pipes from freezing?
- When you’re expecting below freezing temperatures, wrap exposed pipes in towels or insulating material
- Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
- When the temperature outside is very cold, let the water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes.
- Set your thermometer to the same temperature both during the day and at night. During extremely cold days, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you’ll prevent a much more costly repair job needed if pipes burst.
- If you’ll be leaving your house for a few days, never turn your heat off, and set the temperature no lower than 55°.
How will you know if your pipes are frozen?
If you turn your faucet on and nothing or just a trickle of water comes out, the pipes could be frozen.
How can you thaw frozen pipes? Never use an open flame to thaw pipes. This can be dangerous and cause plastic pipes to melt, causing more harm than good. Instead:
- If you have access to running water, run hot water on rags and rub the rags along the frozen pipes.
- Put a space heater in the room with the frozen pipes, or turn up your home’s thermostat.
What if a pipe breaks?
Close the main shut-off valve to stop flooding. The valve is usually in the basement, garage, or outside by the foundation, often near a faucet. If you can’t locate a shut-off valve, call you utility company. Then, call a licensed plumber right away to help you!