How to prevent frozen pipes and what to do when pipes do freeze?

As temperatures plummet, there is a risk of water pipes freezing in homes across the country.

Here's a list of tips from the Red Cross on how to prevent frozen pipes and what to do when pipes do freeze:

  • Keep garage doors closed if water supply lines are in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.
  • Leave the heat on in the home, even while out of town. Set to a temperature no lower than 13 C or 55 F.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If only a trickle of water comes out when taps are turned on, suspect a frozen pipe. Here are some tips on what do when pipes freeze:

Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where water service enters the home through the foundation.

Keep the faucet open while treating a frozen pipe and as the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.

Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an 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.

Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If the frozen area can’t be found, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if the pipe cannot be thawed, call a licensed plumber.

Check all other faucets in the home to find out if there are additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Future Protection

Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing. Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.

Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.

For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.



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