The rain is coming down hard.. and soon those freezing temperatures will come in and we will have a blanket of snow. Here is a clip from YouTube from a story that CBS news ran last year on Frozen Pipes:
We had many many calls for burst pipes last winter and are getting phone calls from customers on how to prevent this from happening. I was surfing the web and came across these tips from an insurance companies website:
Preventing Frozen Pipes
An average of a quarter-million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter, all because of water pipes that freeze and burst.
And recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. An eighth-inch (three millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons (946 liters) of water a day. Both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst.
By taking a few simple precautions, you can save yourself the mess, money and aggravation frozen pipes cause.
Before the cold hits
Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Remember – the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
Heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables can be used to wrap pipes. Be sure to use products approved by an independent testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., and only for the use intended (exterior or interior). Closely follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
When the mercury drops
A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you go away
Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing or
Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes freeze
Don’t take chances. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.)
Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.
- Insulate all water pipes from cold moving air and keep them dry. Locate the main water shut off in case you need it. Leaks often happen if the pipe is thawed out.
- Use either heater tapes wrapped around the pipes or a heated reflector lamp in a dry enclosed space. Check the light to see that it is working on cold nights. The heater tapes work by a built in thermostat. The tape must be wrapped between the pipe and the insulation to work.
- Note that if electricity is unavailable or goes off let the water run only at a slow constant drip; this is cheaper than repairing it. First start a slow drip on the hot side faucet, then a faster drip on the cold side faucet. There is no need to run a lot of water. Bathrooms can be cold, as long as they aren’t freezing.
- Remember to insulate and heat the drain lines in crawl spaces and cold basements. Again, a heat lamp focused on the drain p-trap will keep it from freezing if it is also protected from moving cold air by making a boxed enclosure.
- Thaw out a frozen pipe, first check the pipe in the area of the freeze. Some plastic or copper pipes will split and will flood an area when thawed out. If the pipe looks busted or has a slit in it, call a plumber. If the pipe is all metal, it can be thawed out by connecting a rented welder onto the pipe on each side of the frozen part. After a while it will be running again. It is just like connecting starter cables to the car battery, but with much longer cables.
- It is far better to heat the area around the frozen part with an electric space heater, a hand held hair dryer, or a heat lamp in a reflector to prevent a fire. If this is a problem, call the plumber. Some of them don’t mind you watching them as long as you are quiet and not in the way.
- Always unhook your water hose from your outdoor spigot in the winter, or before the weather in your area starts to get below freezing. The water inside the hose can freeze, and the freezing continues back into the spigot until it reaches your piping. If you have PVC plastic piping leading to this spigot, it will burst.