Simple Steps Can Help Prevent Frozen Pipes

Dated: 01/21/2014

Views: 4048

With another polar vortex blast on the way, homeowners must again be aware of the possibility of frozen – then bursting – pipes.

Frozen pipes create havoc in cold weather, often sending water cascading down walls, ruining floors and creating safety hazards once they have thawed.
However, with precautions, frozen pipes are largely preventable.  Here are some tips to prevent pipes from freezing:
  • Insulate pipes in a home’s crawl spaces and attic, as exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
  • Heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended.
  • Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes, and use caulk or 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.
  • Before wintery temperatures arrive, disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets, reducing the chance of freezing in the span of pipe just inside the house.
  • Keep thermostats set at the same temperature during both day and night.
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
  • According to the Weather Channel, letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. Opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes.
A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing.  If the dripping stops, leave the faucet open, since a frozen pipe will still need pressure relief.
If going away during the winter, drain the pipes and do not set thermostats any lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, if a pipe does freeze, first turn off the main water source and then call a plumber.
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Robert Pileggi

I grew up in Union County and moved to Long Beach Island in 2003. I loved living here so much that I got my real estate license in 2004 and have since helped many other people enjoy living and vacati....

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