Preventing Frozen Pipes

Hair dryer frozen pipes

Frozen water pipes can be an inconvenience at best, and a disaster at worst: A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding and structural damage in your home and creating the potential for mold growth.

The good news is that by taking a few simple precautions, you can prevent the expense and aggravation that frozen pipes cause.

Here are some tips:

Before the cold

  • Insulate pipes in your crawl spaces and attic.
  • Seal air leaks near pipes; look for leaks near dryer vents and other areas exposed to outside air, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, then shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.

If you travel or have a seasonal home

  • Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check your home during cold snaps.
  • Shut off and drain your water system (note: doing this may disable sprinkler systems, so take precautions).

If your pipes freeze

  • Take a safety first approach – never operate appliances in standing water, and never use an open flame to thaw pipes!
  • Call a plumber.
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with a hair dryer; start by warming the pipe close to the faucet, working toward the coldest section of pipe.

If your water pipes have already burst

  • Turn off water at the main shutoff valve in the house; teach everyone in your family where the water shutoff valve is and how to close it.
  • Call a plumber.

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