We have been experiencing some abnormally cold temperatures in the past few days. In this weather, your pipes are susceptible to freezing and eventually bursting, causing you a lot of expense and anguish. Being informed and prepared may help you avoid the messy and expensive issue of frozen pipes.
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the “strength” of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
So it is advisable to take the following preventative actions to prevent your pipes from freezing:
- Keep the house at a steady temperature, rather than setting the thermostat lower at night to save energy costs. The additional energy cost will be a lot less than paying for a burst water pipe and cleanup.
- Let a cold-water faucet drip throughout the day. This allows water to keep moving slowly through the pipes, preventing the water from freezing the supply pipes.
However while this is typically a good recommendation, if the water drains are exposed to the frigid weather, the water could freeze in the drain and cause the water to back up in the sink and potentially flood the space. So keep the flow of the drip minimal, and keep checking the sink basin every few hours.
- Open all kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to expose warm house air to the water supply and drains. If the washing machine is in a closet, open that door as well. Removing under-sink products and towels or even using a small fan to circulate warm air around pipes and drains can also help.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- If you haven’t already done so, make sure outside hoses are disconnected, and, if possible, shut off the water supply to the outside faucet. If this is not possible, protect outside faucets with insulated covers, commonly available at hardware stores.
In general, when temperatures dip below zero, keep a vigil on your pipes. Periodically open a faucet to flush water through them. Remember, prevention is better than cure.