Protecting Your Home From Frozen Pipes

It’s the advice your parents gave you every time the temperature dips below freezing. “Make sure to drip your faucets!” No matter how much you hate to admit it, your parents are right. Wild winter weather can cause your pipes to freeze and possibly burst causing flooding and costly water damage. We’ve scoured the internet to find the best tips and tricks to protect your sanity and keep your home dry this winter. We highly recommend following these steps recommended by the American Red Cross, State Farm and Consumer Reports.

Why Pipes Freeze In The First Place:
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are exposed to severe cold like pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics or kitchen cabinets and pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

Steps to Prevent Frozen Pipes:
– Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. The more the better as insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
– Seal leaks that allow cold air inside or near places where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use insulation to keep the cold out. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
– Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
– Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
– Disconnect garden hoses, and if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
– Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and night.
– Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Ways to Avoid Frozen Pipes While Traveling:
– If you’re going on vacation during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home and set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
– Ask a friend or family member to check your house daily and make sure it’s warm enough to prevent it from freezing.
– Shut off and drain your water system, but note that if you have a fire sprinklers in your home, it may be deactivated when you turn off the water.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes:
– If your pipes freeze, don’t let panic set in. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t meant they’ve burst. If you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out, contact a plumber immediately.
– Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt the ice in it.
– Apply heat to the section of the pipe using any of the following: an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use an open flame to heat or thaw your pipes!
– Check all other faucets in your home to see if there are additional frozen pipes. If one freezes, others may too.
– If you have a pipe that does burst, shut off the main water valve, call your plumber and insurance company immediately and be sure to take photos of the damage while you’re waiting for the plumber to arrive.

At the end of the day, the best way to deal with freezing pipes is to prevent them in the first place. But if the unthinkable does happen, we hope you’ll keep these tips in mind and act fast to minimize the damage and cost of repairs. Stay safe and stay warm!

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