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How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing (or What to Do In Case Your Pipes Burst)

by Cassie December 11, 2014

12.11

One of the worst home disasters that can happen in the winter are freezing or bursting pipes.

Low winter temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze or burst.

So how can you protect your home before, during and after a pipe freezes?

First, take actions to prevent pipes from freezing. These actions include:

  • Disconnecting all gardening hoses from faucets.
  • Installing covers on outside faucets.
  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Insulating all outside walls and unheated areas of your home and garage.
  • Weather seal all windows to prevent drafts.
  • Cover or close open air vents. Freezing temperatures with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher and, in extreme cold, open cabinet doors below sinks to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Wrap pipes near exterior walls with insulation or heating tape.
  • If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period, shut off the water supply valve to your washing machine.

Your first sign that pipes are starting to freeze is reduced water flow from a faucet. Check for water flow before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning. Allowing a faucet to drip slightly can help prevent freezing.

If a pipe freezes, you can thaw it out using a good hair dryer or by soaking towels in very hot water and then wrapping them around the cold sections of the pipe. When thawing out a pipe, turn on the faucet. This will allow the melted water to drip out. Start thawing the part of the pipe that is closest to the faucet.

Let’s hope that you never have a pipe burst. If you do, shut off the water at the main valve. Close the valve on the top of your water heater. Then, begin the clean-up, call your insurance agent and call your plumber.

As with any home situation, use your best judgment to determine what’s right for you.