Preventing Frozen Pipes

faucet dripWith temperatures dipping down near zero and wind chills even colder, it’s important for residents to keep their water lines in mind.

Here is some advice for residents on how to keep their water pipes flowing and how to thaw them out if they do become frozen.

If you have pipes that are on outside walls, keep the faucet on with a stream about the size of a pencil lead. Letting the water run with a small stream will be less costly than a flooded home and/or burst water pipes.

Cabinets should be opened at faucets in the kitchen or bathroom to allow heat to reach the pipes.

Preventative measures also include insulating pipes, making sure vents to crawl spaces are closed and insulated and wrapping outside spigots and removing hoses so they don’t freeze.

A very small crack in the foundation or vent can let in enough wind to freeze pipes.

If pipes do freeze, use caution when thawing them.

Use a hair dryer, an electric space heater or a salamander to thaw. Never use an open flame and keep away from combustible materials.

Be sure to know where the water shut-off valve is located inside the home.

Property owners are responsible for protecting both water pipes and the water meter from damage. Residents can take steps to prevent water pipes and meters from freezing in order to continue to enjoy water service as well as avoiding unnecessary and expensive repairs. Preventing pipes and meters from freezing is much easier than trying to thaw them.

Provide warmth to the water pipes:

• Eliminate cold drafts near water pipes.

• Tightly close doors and windows to the outside and eliminate drafts from crawl spaces.

• Fill cracks in walls and around windows.

• Turn off water to garden hose connections at an inside valve and drain the exposed piping before freezing temperatures set in.

• Open the door to the room where the pipes are located to allow warmth to circulate.

• Place a lighted bulb near water pipes. (Never use open flames.)

• Wrap pipes in insulation or heat tape.

• Open cabinet doors below the sink to allow warm air to reach the pipes.

Make frequent use of your water supply:

Flowing water often breaks up ice below freezing. When outside temperatures remain below freezing, it’s less expensive to run your faucet regularly than for you to repair a frozen or burst pipe.

What to do if pipes freeze?

If no water comes from your faucets when you turn them on, most likely the pipes nearest a wall, door, window or along the floor are frozen:

• Start by opening a faucet near the frozen pipe to release any vapor from the melting ice and so that you’ll know when the water starts flowing again.

• Begin warming the pipes nearest the faucet and work toward the frozen section.

• Blow warm air on the pipe using a hair dryer. (Do not leave the dryer unattended or allow it to overheat.)

• Once water has begun to flow again, let a pencil-sized stream of water flow through the faucet until normal heating is restored to the area.

• Eliminate cold drafts and allow warm air to circulate around the pipes to prevent freezing again.


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