How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
The extreme cold combined with wind chill creates a substantial risk for frozen or burst pipes. Freezing water turns to ice within the pipe, it expands and can block the line. This blockage can create excessive pressure throughout the system and cause pipe failure in vulnerable places--no matter if the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash more than 250 gallons of water in a single day. The results can cause property damage, high repair costs and disruption of business.
Follow these plumbing tips to help minimize the risk of frozen pipes, and to help prevent damage and expensive repairs:
- Open cabinet doors under sinks and in storage areas to allow heat from the room to circulate around uninsulated pipes. Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to drip overnight; however, be careful not to run the water into a drain line that is exposed to the extreme cold because that line might freeze.
- Insulate all pipes in unheated areas or against uninsulated outside walls, in garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
- Make sure the heat is turned on in the building and is set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
If You Have Frozen Pipes
- Shut off the water main leading into the structure to reduce pressure on frozen pipes and minimize flooding if the pipes burst.
- Use a hair dryer to thaw the ice blockage if the frozen pipe is exposed and visible. (Do not use an open flame to thaw!) If frozen pipes are not visible, contact plumbing experts, who use professional pipe-thawing equipment.
- If you currently notice slower water flow and expect frozen pipes, you should call a plumber immediately. Typically, issues like this can be resolved before any damage occurs.