A blast of cold air has the bracing from the southeast for some of the coldest winter temperatures.
In addition to protecting yourself and your pets, it’s also important to take steps to protect your home during freezing weather. This includes protecting your home’s water lines. A broken water pipe can be a messy and potentially costly situation.
There are things you can do to protect your pipes in cold weather. Here are some tips from the Extension Service at Mississippi State University and Huntsville Utilities.
The basics of heating
- Keep the heat on: If you’re going to be away from home for a long time, make sure your thermostat isn’t set below 55 degrees.
- Seal Cracks and Gaps: Look for places inside and outside your home where cold air can enter and around your pipes.
- Apply heating tape: This is a special electrical tape that can be applied directly to the pipes.
- Add extra insulation: foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves can be placed directly over the pipes to help insulate them from the cold. This is especially important for pipes in attics and basements.
FYI Dripping Faucets
- Let the faucet drip: This relieves pressure on your home’s water system.
- Run cold water. All you need is a trickle of water to keep it flowing through the pipes steadily.
- According to MSU, a slow drop of water will fill a one-gallon pitcher in about an hour, which equates to about 2 cents a night to run a faucet. It’s much cheaper than broken pipes and water damage.
- The faucet furthest from your water meter should drip if you can only run one. He will draw water throughout the house.
- Can’t I just open the cabinet doors and prevent the pipes from freezing? It is recommended to open cabinet doors to allow warm air to enter enclosed spaces, which works well in kitchens and bathrooms. However, most plumbing problems occur in less accessible places like garages, crawl spaces, and attics. This is why it is important to insulate exposed plumbing.
More plumbing protection
- Remove, drain and store the hoses used outdoors and ensure you have closed the indoor valves supplying the outdoor hose bibs. Disconnect your hose and keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the hose can expand without causing the hose to rupture.
- You can use a “pipe sleeve” like those sold at home repair stores or even heating tape of other products specifically designed to protect exposed water lines. Even newspapers can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes.
- Check around the house for other areas where the water supply lines are in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature day and night. By suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you risk a higher heating bill, but you can avoid a much more expensive repair job if the pipes freeze and burst.
What to do if you suspect a frozen pipe
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, you may have a frozen pipe. If this happens, leave the faucets open and call a plumber. If you suspect your pipe has burst, turn off the water at the house’s main shutoff valve, but leave the faucets open before calling your plumber.
How to thaw frozen pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt the ice in the pipe.
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air to enter your home where the pipes are. This is a problem with the electrical wiring, vents, and dryer hoses.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable heater (away from flammable materials), or by wrapping the pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a torch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you cannot locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all the other faucets in your home to see if you have any other frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze as well.