The real costs of frozen pipes
With the cold snap embracing the area, it’s important to think about more than just keeping yourself warm and toasty. Don’t forget about the hazards and expense of frozen pipes. They are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage, which typically shows up later on after the pipes have thawed out.
The pipes that happen to be most at risk are those in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics, and garages. But even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze. The good news is there are some simple things you can do to keep your water running and your house dry.
Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. Again, during a cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on your heating bill.
If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
Add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you may well have a frozen pipe.
If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house. If the water is still running and no pipes have burst, you can take the following steps. (Of course, if you suspect a more serious problem, call a plumber.)
Turn on the faucet. As you heat the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through. Running water through the pipe, as cold as it is, will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (make sure to keep it away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water.
Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Call a licensed plumber as once the pipe is thawed out, there is a very good chance you will have a leak and the earlier you get that repaired the less likely to have a surprise from water damage later!
Your friends at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are standing by to help during the cold weather! Just give us a call or make an appointment today.