What to do to Prevent Freezing Pipes

Dec14 By Leak Detection
a cartoon of a man melting frozen pipes with a hair dryer

Winter is coming, and with it, plunging temperatures. For homeowners, one of the biggest dangers of the season is bust pipes, caused when water in the pipes expands as it freezes. When this happens, it’s a nightmare of property destruction that can end up costing thousands of dollars in water damage. How can you keep this from happening to you?

  • Protect the pipes that are at highest risk. Pipes in unheated spaces like basements, attics, and garages are at most risk, but those that run through cabinets or exterior walls can also freeze. Pipe insulation is inexpensive, so it’s smart to insulate any pipes you believe may be vulnerable, including attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
  • Tend to outdoor water lines. Following the manufacturer’s directions, drain the swimming pool and sprinkler lines. Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors, and close inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs, opening the outside hose bibs so they can drain. Leave the outside valves open so that if any water remains in the lines it can expand without bursting the pipes.
  • When the cold hits, take extra precautions. Keep garage doors closed to protect pipes in the garage, and open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so that warmer air can circulate around the plumbing. Leave water dripping from a faucet that is served by exposed pipes, because even a trickle of water can prevent them from freezing.
  • Keep the inside of your house warm. Leave the thermostat settings the same during the day and night, and if you’re going to be away, don’t set it any lower than 55 degrees.
  • Know how to thaw frozen pipes. If you can’t get more than a trickle of water to come out of a pipe, it may be frozen. Use extreme caution in this situation, so that if the pipe has already burst, water won’t flood your home. Turn off the water at the main shutoff valve if there’s a broken pipe, and call for help. If no pipes have burst, try these steps to fix the problem:
    • Turn on the faucet. Keeping the water running will help to melt the ice.
    • Apply some heat. You can use an electric hair dryer, a heating pad, or a portable space heater to warm up the pipe, or you can wrap the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. Don’t use any high heat tools like a blowtorch, kerosene heater, or charcoal stove, because this can cause damage or start a fire.
    • Call for help. If you can’t locate the frozen pipe, or you can’t get it to thaw, call a plumber. A professional plumber will know exactly what to do to fix your problem.

Whether you’re in need of basic plumbing help or you’re facing a disaster like burst pipes, it’s good to have a professional on call. At Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating, we’ve been taking care of business owners and homeowners in Seattle for over 20 years, and we can meet all your heating, cooling and plumbing needs. Family owned and operated, we provide superior service at affordable prices because our customers are our top priority. For help with your plumbing 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call (206) 350-0079 or contact us through our website.

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