When the Polar Cold Hits…

Insulate the pipes in the home’s crawl spaces and attic.  These exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.  Remember the more insulation you use, the better the protection for the pipes. Wrap the pipes with foam insulation to minimize exposure to arctic winds that pummel the exterior walls of the house.

Heat Tape can be used to wrap the most susceptible pipes. Read and follow label directions, make sure tape is labeled for use interior or exterior.

Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located.  Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.  Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and the heat in.  With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.

Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to an outside faucet. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house. Install a foam covering over the exterior spigot.

When the Mercury Drops:
A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.  Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks near exterior walls.

In most cases, cold is not the only contributing factor to freezing pipes.  Strong winds will act to freeze a pipe that would not be susceptible under normal conditions – learn the wind direction for your home, and insulate the pipes closest to exposure.

If your pipes Freeze:

Don’t take chances.  If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on, and call a plumber.  If you detect that your water pipes are frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house: leave the faucets turned on.  ( make sure everyone in the home knows where the water shut-off valve is, and how to open and close it)

NEVER TRY TO THAW a pipe with a torch or other open flame.  Water damage is preferable to burning down a house.  You may be able to thaw a simple frozen pipe with warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.

DO NOT USE ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES in the area of standing water.