When water freezes it expands. This puts pressure on the pipes causing them to break. Fortunately, most pipes that freeze are ones that are only exposed to the cold. This includes outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines and any water supply pipes in unheated areas such as basements, garages or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run along exterior walls with little insulation are also at risk.
Before the severe, cold weather arrives, you can prevent your pipes from freezing by preparing ahead of time. Consider insulating your pipes with heat tape or even newspaper. This can provide significant protection for your pipes. You should apply this to any cold or hot water pipes that are in unheated areas. Look in your basement, attic and under your kitchen and bathroom sink for these pipes.
When the cold weather strikes, it is important to make sure all exterior doors are closed. Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinets where water lines reside. You should also let cold water drip from the faucet of those pipes. This will help prevent pipes from freezing.
In the unfortunate event that your pipes do freeze, there are some steps you can take before calling a repair man. The first sign of a frozen pipe is when you turn your water on and only a small trickle of water comes out. If this happens, keep the faucet on while you treat the frozen pipe. Apply heat to a section of the pipe. You can do this by using an electric heating pad, hairdryer, portable space heater or towels soaked in warm water. Never use a blowtorch, kerosene or any type of open flame.
If you are unsuccessful at thawing your frozen pipes, contact a licensed professional. We hope you find these tips useful in protecting your home during the winter weather.
American Red Cross, “Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes”