Prevent Frozen Pipes

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Winter has arrived. Cold temperatures are setting in requiring you to start wearing warmer clothing.  Home maintenance experts suggest you take the same approach for your home.
Before the temps drop below 32 degrees and the first freeze occurs, as a homeowner, you need to prepare yourself and your home’s plumbing system against frozen pipes.  Water damage from frozen pipes can cost in the thousands of dollars to repair, not taking into account the time.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

The following 10 tips can help you prepare and safeguard your home before a pipe freezes

Freeze Proof Faucets

Install a freeze proof faucet for all exterior spigots or install an insulating cover.  Disconnect all garden hoses before the cold season sets in. Close the interior shut off valves leading to any exterior faucets. The following illustration from Woodford Manufacturing shows how freeze proof faucets function for those colder climate homes..

Freeze Proof Faucets

Pipe Insulation

Use foam-rubber pipe insulation or similar products to protect any exposed pipes from the cold. Homeowners should focus on pipes near or at an exterior wall and/or in a crawl space.  Any home improvement retailer such as Lowe’s or Home Depot will carry these products.

Pipe Insulation

Lucky Number 55

Keep your house temperature at a minimum 55 degrees or higher.


Drip, drip, drip

If you are leaving your home for a short period of time or if the electric is not operational, open faucets no faster than a constant drip to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. The release in pressure will reduce the chances of a rupture. This may prevent returning to a flooded home. The pipes may also freeze if the water is flowing too slowly.


Open the cabinents

Open cabinet doors below all sinks to allow the heat from the home interior to circulate into the cabinets where there may be water lines.


Close the windows

All windows should be properly closed to protect from the outdoor elements.  If you feel drafts coming through or near the window(s), take preventative steps to seal the window, such as weather stripping or rope caulking.  Be sure to check any crawl space for exposed pipes and potential drafts.  You may also want to close the foundation vents during extreme cold weather to prevent drafts.


Bring out the big guns

For extreme cold climates, you may consider installing a temperature controlled, convection powered hot water recirculation valve. This allows warm water to circulate your warm and cold water pipes when the temperature drops below the homeowners chosen temperature set point (77F – 140F is recommended).


Empty Pipes

Drain water from the sprinkler system. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s direction.


Relocate Pipes

Consider relocating any exposed pipes to provide an increased protection from freezing. Consult with a professional to determine the best method for re-routes.


Drain the whole house

If you are away from the home for an extended period of time, such as a vacation home, you may consider draining the plumbing lines including your water heater. Consult with a plumber if you choose to drain the system.

What to Do if a Pipe Freezes

  • Locate the water main cut-off valve before attempting to thaw out frozen pipes.
  • Open the faucet the pipe runs to before attempting to thaw a frozen pipe. This will allow water to flow through the pipe and relieve any pressure in the pipe.
  • Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that haven’t burst. Start from the interior faucet end of the pipe, and work your way toward colder end of the pipe.
  • After all repairs and/or thawing have been completed, close all faucets including the ice maker and check your water meter.  If there is no flow, this is a good sign that there should be no additional leaks.

Consult with a plumber if you are unsure how to remedy any frozen pipes.

Photo:  Pinterest
Woodford Manufacturer   12/5/16  2/15/15

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