How to avoid frozen pipes this very cold winter
With the current deep freeze, homeowners should be on guard for possible frozen pipes.
But if you take certain precautions, you might just be able to avoid a hefty plumbing bill this winter. Here's a list of plumber-approved tips on keeping a pipe from freezing, spotting a frozen one, thawing it, and what to do if it bursts.
Preventing pipes from freezing
Keeping your heaton is a no-brainer solution, but it can get expensive. However, if you're leaving the house for a few days, consider keeping the house at 50 degrees.
Letting your faucet drip if you're worried about a pipe freezing is another way to relieve pressure, as pressure is what ultimately causes pipe bursts.
Opening the cabinets underneath your bathroom sink is also a good way to keep them from getting too cold.
Using electrical heating tape to keep pipes warm that are in extra-cold spots is a good idea. You also can add extra insulation to pipes by fitting them with foam or rubber sleeves.
Spotting a frozen pipe
Your house is filled with water pipes, and while it's not hard to figure out when you're dealing with a frozen pipe, it can be tricky to figure out where the frozen section is. If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, you're going to have to do a little detective work.
The first step should be to try all the other faucets in your house. If all the faucets in a room aren't working, the freeze is likely in a split from the main pipe. If all the faucets on a floor aren't working, the freeze is likely between where the first- and second-floor pipes separate. If all the faucets in your house aren't working, then the freeze is probably near where the main pipe enters the house.
The frozen section of the pipe, if exposed, will likely have condensation over it. You'll also be able to tell that it's colder just from touching it.
Thawing a frozen pipe
Before thawing the frozen section of your pipe, you should open the faucet to relieve the water pressure that has been building and allow the water to escape once it thaws. You also should begin the thawing process close to the faucet and work your way down to the blockage. If melted water and ice get caught behind the blockage, the chance that the pipe will burst increases.
One of the easiest ways to thaw a frozen pipe is with a hair dryer. You also can use hot towels or a heat lamp to warm the pipe up. Never use an open flame.
What to doif a pipe bursts
Don't panic. Shut off the main water line valve into your property; it's usually near your water meter. This will prevent your house from flooding. After you've done that, call your plumber.