Freezing pipes

Freezing Pipes - Prevention

When a pipe freezes, moisture or water standing in the pipes creates a blockage as additional water backs up in the pipe.  Water expands as it freezes and places additional pressure on your pipes while it is expanding, potentially cracking or breaking pipes. When the frozen water returns to its liquid state, the water begins leaking out of cracks and breaks. Sometimes the crack is small but, over time, it can cause as much damage as a gushing leak.  Often times, these pipes are located inside walls or under your house.  They are always costly fixes, sometimes costing tens of thousands of dollars.

You can avoid costly repair bills by protecting your pipes as winter ushers in.  When temperatures are predicted to go below 32, you need take precautions to protect your water pipes.  Be sure to check overnight temperatures, as that is usually when weather is the coldest and damage is likely to occur.

Prevention costs just a few dollars and a little bit of time.

Give pipes a hand

  • For pipes running through cabinets or vanities, open the door to let warmer room temperatures in.
  • Watch this instructional video to protect outdoor spigots with foam faucet covers.
  • Cover your pipes with inexpensive pipe wrap insulation found at hardware stores.

Keep water working

  • Allow a small trickle of water to run. Running water is less likely to freeze solid. The cost of extra water is typically lower than the cost of repairing a broken pipe. Catch the water in a bowl or pitcher to water plants and wash produce.  

If your pipes freeze

Shut off water immediately

  • Do not attempt to thaw pipes without turning off the main shut-off valve.

Thaw pipes with warm air

  • Melt frozen water in the pipe by warming the air around it with a hair dryer or space heater.  
  • Do not leave space heaters unattended.
  • Do not use kerosene heaters or open flames.

Careful turning water back on

  • Once pipes thaw, slowly turn the water back on.  
  • Check pipes and joints for any cracks or leaks caused by freezing.