Temperatures below freezing can be a cause for concern not only outdoors, but also within the confines of the four walls called home.
How to Know if your Pipes are Frozen
Generally, when a pipe which feeds a certain fixture such as a shower, sink, or toilet freezes, you will no longer be able to get water through that fixture. This would be the case if the pipe is frozen solid. During the winter months, unprotected water pipes and water meters are vulnerable to freezing. This problem may be prevented by making sure that the heat is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit in all basement areas and crawl spaces where pipes and meters are typically located.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If a water pipe should freeze, direct hot air from a hair dryer at the section of pipe that is blocked by ice, or apply an electrical heat tape. DO NOT use a torch or other open flame. You can also open ceiling tiles if your home has a drop ceiling, use a heat gun (be extremely careful) or rub the pipes with warm damp rags.
Shut-off valves are normally located on either side of the water meter. It's a good idea to operate these valves to keep them functional.
Preventing Your Pipes From Freezing
Some suggestions include:
- Keep the water meter area or pipes exposed to outside walls heated.
- Provide ventilation to pipes allowing warmer air to circulate around them.
- Insulate your pipes .
- Caulk and seal any openings near your water pipes
- Keep some tap water running or at a very slow drip.
If you are leaving your home an extended period of time:
- Leave the thermostat set at 55 degrees or above.
- Leave the doors open under the sink or other closed areas to circulate warm air.
- Unplug the water softener so that it won't regenerate.
- You can turn off your water at the incoming valve before the water meter.
- If you have shut off your water, open the hot and cold faucets in the kitchen sink to drain the system.
- Have a trusted friend check your vacant home periodically.