Frozen Pipes aren’t just an inconvenience, they are disastrous. An average of a quarter-million families have their homes damaged and their lives disrupted each winter…all because of water pipes that freeze. Contrary to belief, both poly (PVC, PEX) and copper pipes may burst. An eighth-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, wrecking floors, furniture, and property.
Before the Cold Hits. . .
INSULATE pipes in crawl spaces and attics. These expose pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember: The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
HEAT TAPE or thermostatically-controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organizations, such as Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturer’s installation and operation instructions.
SEAL leaks which allow cold inside, near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. With severe wind chill, a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
DISCONNECT garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freeze of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When the Mercury Drops. . .
A TRICKLE of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip from a faucet overnight, especially if your pipes are located within or on an exterior wall.
OPEN cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
If You’re Away. . .
SET the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
ASK a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing, or…
SHUT OFF and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your Pipes Freeze. . .
DON’T TAKE CHANCES. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. (make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.
NEVER try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to fire damage. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
DO NOT use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.