Pipes Freezing? How to Prevent It

Cold Weather Plumbing Tips
Cold weather comes with a risk of frozen pipes. That’s a problem because, when water freezes within a pipe, the water expands inside the pipe, creating a pressure that can cause the pipe to burst. Burst pipes can send hundreds of gallons of water into your home and create thousands of dollars worth of damage. The pipes that are most susceptible to freezing are those that are located in outside walls, under sinks on outside walls, and/or in unheated crawlspaces. What can you do to prepare your pipes for frigid temps?

  • Before cold weather sets in, disconnect all garden hoses that are connected to your outdoor faucets (also called hose bibs). In addition to the valve that turns water on and off outdoors, it’s also a good idea to locate the water shut-off valve indoors that can shut off water to the faucet.
  • Pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures should be covered with insulation. You can insulate pipes that run through unheated spaces with foam insulation wrap. You could also wrap problem pipes with electrical heat tape. And you can purchase outside faucet covers at your local warehouse store or Walmart.
  • During very cold weather, let both cold and hot faucets drip slightly in order to keep the water in the pipe from freezing.
  • Open the cabinets where pipes are located in the kitchen and bathroom to expose them to your indoor heated air. You can also use a small portable heater to heat the pipes within the cabinets, as well as to add above-freezing warmth in unheated crawlspaces.
  • If you have plumbing in the garage, don’t leave the garage door open in very cold weather. Add a space heater anywhere indoors you think the temperature could drop below freezing.
  • If a pipe has frozen, but hasn’t burst, you can try several common thawing techniques, depending on the location. Heat lamps or blow dryers can be used, but don’t use un-grounded electrical appliances outdoors. Also, never use a flame torch because it creates a fire hazard and could lead to a much worse problem.

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