How To Prevent Frozen Pipes
There are a number of things, some long-term, some short, that you can do to protect yourself from that bit of winter unpleasantness.
- Put adequate insulation around pipes that are vulnerable to cold air
- Wrap heat tape around such pipes
- If practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water supply to outdoor faucets during the winter. This will prevent freezing in a short span of the pipe inside the house from the faucet. At a minimum, disconnect garden hoses from faucets to release accumulated water.
- Keep water dripping or trickling from faucet farthest from where the water main enters your house. This will keep water moving through most of your plumbing and discourage freezing.
- If you have pipes that aren’t insulated in an exterior wall near a sink, leave open cabinet doors beneath the sink to let warm air in.
- If you plan to be away for several days, keep your heat on – not necessarily full blast, but enough to discourage freezing of pipes. Ask a neighbor to make sure the heat is still on.
- An alternate plan if you’re leaving: shut off the water, drain the water supply by opening a faucet at the lowest point in the house and put antifreeze in the toilet bowl and traps under the sink and tub.
What Should I Do If My Pipes Freeze
If you turn on a faucet and get no water, your pipes may be frozen. If your pipes freeze, there are some procedures that you can follow to thaw them. The sooner the problem is recognized, the better chance that damage will be minimized.
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Some Techniques For Thawing Frozen Pipes Include:
- If possible, expose a boxed-in area to the inside heat. An example includes opening some ceiling tiles if your home has a drop ceiling.
- Use a heat gun. However, be extremely careful as the heat from the heat gun will ignite any wood or paper it contacts.
- DO NOT use torches to thaw pipes!
- Rubbing the pipes with warm, damp rags may slowly thaw the line.
- If you do not have water for an extended period of time, special attention should be given to hot water heaters and boilers.
What Should I Do If A Pipe Breaks
Shut off your water immediately, using your home’s shutoff valve.
Where Are My Shut Off Valves
There are actually two major shutoff valves in line with your service. The first valve, called a curb stop, is generally located near the property line and is normally housed by a cylinder with a cap on it called the curb box. The other major valve is located in the home next to the water meter. Other valves may be near plumbing appliances such as sinks and toilets.
Keeping your main valve in good working condition will assure you that you will be able to turn your water off in the event of an emergency, in case one of your water pipes breaks, for example. Older style gate valves should be turned periodically due to possible corrosion build-up. Newer Teflon coated ball valves should stay in working order without any regular turning.
After you have shut off your water and you have water damage you should call your local restoration contractor to begin mitigating any future damage caused by the water.