What Should I Do If My Pipes Freeze And How Can I Prevent It?
When cold weather hits, pipes that aren’t properly insulated and enclosed in your home are at greater risk of freezing and bursting. This is a particular problem in the Northeastern part of the country, like Vermont, where freezing, damp temperatures can strike suddenly without giving homeowners enough time to ensure their pipes are adequately protected.
Pipes are more prone to burst whenever the temperature outside drops below 20 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. After a pipe bursts, the biggest cost comes from water damage, especially if the water leaks for an extended period of time. In fact, experts estimate that the clean up from a burst pipe can range between $5,000 to $70,000 or more, with an average claim costing about $15,000.
With these four tips you can properly prepare for cold weather and prevent frozen, bursting pipes.
1. Turn Off The Water
If you’re planning on leaving your home for an extended period of time (like days or weeks) turn off your main water valve before you go. This will prevent things like supply hoses to washing machine, dishwasher, etc. from freezing while you’re away. By cutting off the water, you can greatly reduce any possible damages that could potentially occur. Do not, however, turn off the heat to your home – experts recommend keeping your thermostat set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Disconnect and Cover
Before cold weather moves in, disconnect all outdoor water sources like hoses, sprinklers, fountains, etc. Purchase foam covers to place on all outside faucets. Similarly, insulate all outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
3. Use Heating Cables
All pipes that aren’t protected by your home’s insulation barrier are prone to freezing – this includes water lines in your crawlspace. However, you can install electrical heating cables around these pipes that automatically adjust to the appropriate heat. These cables can be purchased in lengths from three to 100 feet and are available for both plastic and metal pipes.
Note: if you’re applying the cables by yourself, be careful NOT to wrap the cable onto itself – this can start a fire.
4. Keep Cabinet Doors Open
By keeping the cabinet doors open below your sinks, you can allow heat to better circulate around the pipes. This is particularly advisable if you’re leaving your home for an extended period of time. Even if your pipes are insulated, this warm air will help to prevent any potential issues.
How To Know If You Have Frozen Pipes
Unfortunately, pipes can freeze even after you’ve taken all of the precautionary, preventative measures. Here are a few things to keep an eye on to determine if your pipes have indeed frozen or not:
- Reduced water flow is the first sign of freezing pipes. Consider allowing your faucet to drip slightly; not only will this help to minimize freezing, but if the drip stops, it might indicate a frozen pipe.
- On particularly cold nights, check the water flow before you go to bed and again when you wake up to ensure water pressure remains the same.
What To Do If A Pipe Freezes
If you’ve determined that you have a frozen pipe, there are a few things you can do to increase thawing:
- Keep the faucet open as you apply heat to the pipe.
- Use an electric heating pad, hair dryer, space heater or towels soaked in hot water to encourage thawing. DO NOT use anything with kerosene or an open flame.
- Apply this heat until full water pressure is returned.
What To Do If A Pipe Bursts
If you were unable to identify the frozen pipe before it burst, consider these three tips:
- Shut off the main water valve or water pump immediately
- Similarly, if the break is in a hot-water pipe, shut off the water valve on the heater as well.
- Call a licensed plumber to professionally assess and repair the damages.
If your home experiences severe water damage due to a burst pipe, call Taylor-Moore Insurance Agency, today. We’ll help by providing you with affordable, reliable assistance during your time of need. Contact us today, for more!