Air pipes

How to prevent pipes from freezing on very cold winter days and how to deal with it if they do

Frozen water pipes in your home could become a concern this weekend as arctic air hits central Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania American Water a advice offered in the past about how to keep your pipes from freezing and what to do if they freeze. When the temperature is at or below the freezing point, the company advises:

  • Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature day and night.
  • If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, run a small trickle of water overnight. The company says the cost of additional water is small compared to the cost of repairing a broken pipe.
  • Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer ambient temperatures to prevent them from freezing.
  • If you’re away, have a friend, relative, or neighbor check your property regularly to make sure the heating is working and the pipes haven’t frozen.
  • A frost alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the indoor temperature drops below 45 degrees.
  • Know which areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and exterior walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water pipes by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
  • Know the location of your main water shutoff valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, turn off the water immediately.
  • Protect your pipes and your water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical tracing wire; newspaper or fabric can also work. For outdoor meters, keep the meter pit cover tightly closed and let any snow falling cover it. The snow serves as insulation.

What do you do if your pipes freeze?

  • Pennsylvania American Water Company advises that the first thing to do is turn off the water immediately.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, heater or hot water. Avoid using kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check for cracks and leaks.


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