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Freezing Temperatures Lead to Frozen Pipes
Wintertime can be a very challenging time when temperatures drop to a below zero levels. Dealing with frozen water pipes is one of the common and frustrating events in freezing temperatures. When the freezing air comes in contact with the pipes, the water inside freezes and expands. The frozen pipes can burst and cause possible flooding very quickly. If the pipes are thawed before expansion occurs, this can be avoided. Of course, there are steps to prepare for these temperatures to help prevent the water pipes from freezing in the first place. One of the most important steps to take is to know where the water shut-off valve is and how to operate it the case of frozen pipes or other emergencies.
Pipes That Are More Prone to Freezing
Knowing which pipes freeze more often than others is essential information in preventing frozen pipes. These would include outdoor water sprinkler lines, outdoor hose hookup faucet. Water pipes located inside that are in unheated areas can be a problem for frozen pipes. These include water pipes in unheated garages, attics, basements and pipes that are in the exterior wall area with no insulation.
Here are some tips that can prevent frozen pipes:
- All water sprinkler systems and supply water lines need to be drained.
- All outdoor hoses need to be removed, drained and stored.
- The outside hose taps need to be opened and drained.
- All water supply lines in unheated areas should be located and winterized by using UL-listed heat tape or a pipe sleeve device. The tape goes on the exposed pipes. Sometimes newspapers can help insulate the pipes.
- Kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors should be opened in order to keep plumbing warmer from the warm air circulating in the house.
- Garage doors should remain closed if water pipes or supply lines are located in garage area.
- Opening up the cold water faucet allowing a small drip can keep the water running in the pipes to keep them from freezing.
- Set the thermostat to run at the same temperature at night, as it runs in the daytime hours in sub zero weather.
- Do not set the thermostat below 55 degrees especially when leaving the house for the day.
Thawing Your Frozen Pipes
If it is too late for prevention and pipes are already frozen, these tips will help to thaw the frozen pipe. If flooding has occurred, be sure to turn the main water valve to the off position. Once the water is turned off, call a professional water damage restoration company to determine the next steps to take. A professional company will be able to judge whether the damage is mild enough to be handled by the homeowner, or something that is going to need professional restoration. If the pipe is frozen but no flooding has occurred, keep the water faucet open. This will keep the water running while the frozen pipe is being treated. Heat can be applied to the pipe by hot wet towels, heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or electric hair dryer. Don’t use any flammable materials like kerosene, propane heater or blowtorch tools. Be careful with the electric heat pad and hair dryer that no contact with water is made. Heat should be applied until the water pressure is considered a normal pressure. A licensed plumber could also be called upon if the pipes cannot be located or if one is unsure how to thaw the frozen pipe safely.
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