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Protect Your Property: Essential Tips to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can bust, causing damage to your home or business, wrecking electronics, furniture and more. A busted pipe can be a very expensive and messy experience.

How to Spot a Frozen Pipe

As temperatures continue to drop across the nation many areas will find themselves in sub-freezing weather. At such lows, water in the pipes can freeze, causing pressure to build up as the ice expands and stopping water from flowing as normal.

As such the first sign that your pipes may be freezing is a reduction in water flow in faucets and other water fixtures.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Pipes exposed to the outside are most at risk for freezing, such as hose bibs and sprinkler systems. However, pipes located inside unheated areas of the building, including crawl spaces, pipes that run along exterior walls with little or no insulation and those in basements, attics and garages are also at risk.

Here are some tips on preventing frozen pipes:

  • Do not set your thermostat to below 55 while you are away. If you are going to be gone for an extended period have someone check the temperature of your house periodically.
  • If you have water supply in or through your garage, keep the exterior door(s) closed as much as possible.
  • Occasionally turn faucets on to allow water to flow and move through your pipes. (this also allows you to ensure water is flowing)
  • Disconnect outdoor items such as hoses. Turn off the indoor valve to outdoor faucets and allow water to drain out.
  • Open cabinets or other fixtures which may be hiding pipes to allow warm air to reach them.
  • Insulate pipes:
    • Foam pipe Insulation – fits easily over exposed pipes
    • Spray Foam – this product can be sprayed into walls and tight areas to fill the cavity around pipes – insulating them from cold temperatures.
    • Heat Tape – this is a special kind of tape that is plugged into an electrical outlet and spiraled around a pipe. The tape self regulates the temperature of the pipe using built in thermometers – calling on the electrical supply as needed.

What to do if a pipe is frozen?

If you suspect that your pipes may be frozen here are some Tips:

  • DO: turn off the “Main” water valve” to the building and leave the faucets “open”.
  • DON’T: Use any open flame to attempt to thaw the pipe.
  • DO: Let the heat of the house get to the pipe by opening cabinets or crawl space doors.
  • DO: Have plenty of patience. Heat and patience are the best two ways to get the pipes to thaw.