With colder weather here, I thought it would be a good idea to give the readers a handy tip sheet to avoid costly and stressful frozen pipe catastrophes.
Here are 10 simple tips that will help homeowners keep their pipes from bursting when temperatures plummet this winter:
- Insulate your pipes: Cover faucets and exposed pipes with insulation or wrap thick towels around them.
- Secure basement doors, windows and crawl space openings: Caulk, seal and weather-strip.
- Drain outside waterlines: Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets, close interior valves that lead to outside hose taps and open hose taps to drain.
- Apply electrically-powered tape to pipes: follow manufacturer’s instructions or call your local plumber to do this.
- Wrap your water heater with an approved manufacturer’s blanket.
- Open cabinet doors. This allows heat to circulate and keeps interior pipes warm.
- Keep faucets running. A small trickle of water or a constant drip is recommended when temperatures drop below freezing for more than 24-hours.
- Don’t set thermostat lower than 55 degrees when traveling. Ask a neighbor to check on your house during below freezing temperatures.
- Locate the main water shut-off valve and learn how to use it in the case of frozen pipes or burst pipes.
- Have a hair dryer handy, in case your pipes do freeze. Heat the exterior of the pipe with the hair dryer by slowly applying the heat and moving the dryer constantly.
The first step to safely thawing frozen pipes is turning off water at the main water shut-off valve. Next, open the nearest faucet to allow water to drain as the ice melts. Now it’s time to use the hair dryer to heat the pipes, or you can wrap a hot, wet rag around pipes. Do not attempt to thaw exposed frozen pipes with an open flame, such as an acetylene torch.
If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer or your pipes burst, be sure to call a qualified plumber.