Prevent Frozen Pipes
halting weather may bring many discomforts but one of them, frozen water pipes, can be avoided with a little planning and a few simple steps. When frigid air hits, water freezes, and as it freezes, it expands — causing pipes to burst and possible flooding to occur.
There are many things that you can do to prepare for halting weather, and there is one very important thing everyone needs to know. Find where the water shut-off valve is in the house and how to use it in case pipes freeze and break. I recommend everyone in the house know this information and practice turn the valve on and off. To locate a water shut-off valve is, find the outside water line that leads to the residence. The water line usually flows from the water meter to a location inside the residence. Likely locations for the water turn-off valve include internal pipes running against exterior walls or where water service enters a home by the foundation.
Before Cold Weather Strikes:
Drain water from your swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines using manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Never put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally unhealthy and is very dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife and landscaping.
Look around your home for other areas where water supply lines are found in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Insulate both hot and cold water pipes. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if water is not running by the pipe, and the water temperature becomes too cold.
Consider installing products designed to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or like materials on exposed water pipes. Most of these products are obtainable at your local building supplies retailer. Pipes should be wrapped carefully, with the ends firmly butted and joints wrapped with tape. Follow manufacturer’s directions for installing and using these items. Newspaper will provide a small degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes.
Tips to Thaw Frozen Pipes:
• If your house or basement is flooding, closest turn off the water valve and call 911.
• If there is no flooding but you turn on a faucet and only a trickle is coming out, make certain your main water valve is turned on. If it is, speculate a frozen pipe. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe.
• Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow by the frozen area. Running water by the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device. Make sure a heating pad, hair dryer or other electrical devices do not come into contact with water.
• Apply heat until complete water pressure is restored.
• If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not easy to reach or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may also freeze.