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Save Yourself from Frozen Water Pipes with These Helpful Tips

If you’ve ever had water pipes freeze and/or burst in your home, you already know the damage and expense that can often ensue. Frozen water pipes can be one of the most devastating and costly of home repairs. But with a little preparation and know-how, you can keep your pipes in good working condition through the cold weather.

How Pipes Freeze

Water expands as it freezes, putting pressure on pipes, often causing them to break. Pipes that are most vulnerable are those located in areas exposed to extreme cold, such as outdoor hoses and pipes that run against exterior walls without insulation. Interior pipes are also subject to freezing, especially those located in typically unheated areas of the home such as garages, crawl spaces, attics, basements and kitchen cabinets.

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warmer air circulate around the pipes. But be sure to remove any harmful chemicals or cleaners and put them out of the reach of children. If you have water supply lines in the garage, keep garage doors closed.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during the night as during the day. While this may cause your heating bill to temporarily be a bit higher, it will prevent a much more costly repair if your pipes burst from freezing.
  • When the weather turns extremely cold outside, open the cold water faucet enough to allow a continuous trickle of water. The movement of the water through the pipes helps prevent them from freezing.
  • If you have certain areas in your home where you know you will have issues, insulating the pipes with foam will help.  This can be an inexpensive way to prevent freezing.  Also consider utilizing a heated pipe wrap in certain situations.  This can be a cost effective way to stay out of trouble.

How to Thaw Pipes if They Freeze

  • If you turn on your faucet only to find a trickle coming out, you probably have frozen pipes. Look for the source in areas where your home is coldest or exterior pipes that are not insulated.
  • Apply heat to the frozen area by wrapping an electric heating pad around the pipe, using an electric hair dryer, or portable space heater. Use caution if you decide to use electric devices and be sure the electric appliances to not make contact with water. Do not use a blowtorch, or other open-flame devices such as a propane or kerosene heater. Keep faucets open and apply heat until full water pressure is restored.
  • If you are unable to access the frozen area or cannot locate it, contact a licensed plumber. Check all faucets to be sure they are working. Often when one pipe freezes, others may as well.