Frozen water pipes can cause your pipes to break. Being prepared and informed may help you avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. The American Red Cross provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.
What pipes freeze the most?>
Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, such as:
Outdoor hose bibs
Swimming pool supply lines
Water sprinkler lines,
Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation
Preventing frozen pipes>
Before cold weather begins, you can prevent freezing of water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:
Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider insulating water pipes to prevent freezing.
Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
Preventing during cold weather events>
Follow these tips to prevent freezing when the weather is cold:
Keep the garage door closed if you have water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
Let 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. By suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
Thawing frozen pipes>
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, it is likely a frozen pipe. Follow these tips for thawing frozen pipes.
As you treat the frozen pipe and 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.
You should continue to apply heat until full water pressure is restored.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
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