How to deal with frozen pipes to prevent burst water lines in your home:
Insulating water pipes
Insulate pipes that are located in unheated areas such as in the crawl space, attic, garage, or basement. You can use insulating tape or molded pipe sleeve and wrap it over the entire length of the exposed pipe. Cover all valves, and pipe fittings with insulating tape or fiberglass.
Heat pipes with conditioned air
Open cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathrooms. Water lines that supply kitchens and bathrooms are frequently located in outside walls. If there are any air leaks in siding or insulation it can cause the pipes to freeze. Leaving your cabinet doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows the pipes behind the cabinets to get more heat from the air conditioned air your family is enjoying.
If you are going out of town, shut off and drain your water system. Make sure you turn off your water heater before draining your system. Leaving your furnace or heat pump on a low setting helps, but may not prevent freezing. Turn off your main shut off valve then go through the house and turn on all faucets, sinks, tubs, showers, and flush your toilets. Meanwhile go back and remove the plug from the valve so that it can drain completely. Make sure when you are done that you retighten the valve and shut off all faucets.
Flush water heater
Because your water heater works harder in the wintertime, you can flush out your water heater to remove sediment buildup that causes corrosion that will shorten the lifespan and reduces heating efficiency.
Keep a constant temperature both day and night. Don’t turn your thermostat down at night. By temporarily 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.
If you do have a frozen water pipe:
- Keep the faucet open. As the frozen pipe and 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 you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
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