Frozen and broken pipes can become a real hassle in the winter months. This is because water has a unique property; it expands as it freezes. This puts a large amount of pressure on whatever is being used to hold this water. Expanding water can cause pipes to break, no matter the material being used. Usually, when pipes freeze it is due to being exposed to severe cold. Pipes that run against exterior walls or that have little to no insulation are usually the pipes more prone to freezing. Before it becomes too late, here are some tips to help you keep your pipes unfrozen this winter:

First, you will want to drain the water from the sprinklers, and swimming pools. Don’t put anti-freeze in these lines unless you are directed to do so. From there, you will want to remove and drain any hoses that are located outdoors. Close the inside valves that supply the outdoor hoses bibs, and open the outside hose bibs to make sure that the water that can be drained. You will want to look around for areas that contain exposed pipes in unheated areas. Both cold and hot water pipes in these areas should be insulated. It would also be a good idea to install specific products that are made to insulate water pipes such as a water sleeve, or even heat tape or heat cable. Newspaper can also provide some degree of insulation.

During the cold weather, you can also take preventative action by doing these simple steps:

First, keep the garage doors closed if there are water supply lines located within them. Open the kitchen and the bathroom cabinet doors to allow some warmer air to circulate around the plumbing systems, making sure that they don’t freeze. When the weather is exceptionally cold, let the cold water drop from the faucet that is exposed. Running the water through the pipes, even a small amount; helps prevent the pipes from freezing completely. You will also want to keep the temperature in your house the same temperature during both day and night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower night time temperatures, you may get a higher heating bill, but you will prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst. If you are going away during the cold weather, leave the heat on in your home and set to a temperature no lower than 55.

Thawing frozen pipes can be tricky, but here are some tips to help you thaw this task: If you turn on a faucet and only a small amount of water comes out, you can suspect that you are dealing with a frozen pipe. The most common places for frozen pipes to occur include exterior walls, or where the water enters your home through the foundation. If you suspect a frozen pipe, you’ll want to keep the faucet open. 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 this pipe will also help melt the ice in the pipe.

From there, you will want to apply heat to that section of the pipe using an electric heating pad that you wrap around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a space heater, or by wrapping pipes with towels that are soaked in hot water. Do not use ANY open flame device, which is extremely dangerous. Lastly, you will want to check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have any additional frozen pipes. Chances are if one pipe freezes, others may too.

Updated: November 4, 2014 — 4:22 pm
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