Preventing frozen pipes - – Rockford’s News Leader

Preventing frozen pipes


With winter comes cold, and with cold, often comes frozen pipes.

Frozen pipes can sometimes burst, causing major damage to a home, but there are several steps homeowners can take to avoid the problem. To prevent pipes from freezing, the following tips can be useful:

  • Disconnect gardening hoses and put covers on all outside faucets
  • Keep the home's temperature at or above 68 degrees, even when leaving for an extended period of time
  • Open cabinet doors below sings to allow heat to circulate
  • Wrap the pipes closest to exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape
  • Close windows near water pipes, cover or close open air vents
  • Heat the basement and weather seal windows
  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of the home
  • Shut off water supply valves to the washing machine if leaving for an extended period of
  • Identify cold drafts from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps near pipes

The first sign of freezing pipes is reduced water flow from faucets. Some steps to monitor freezing conditions include:

  • Allowing a faucet to drip lukewarm water
  • Check faucets for water flow and pressure before bed and again in the morning
  • Check pipes around the water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls, and in crawl spaces

If a pipe has frozen inside of a home, using a good hair dryer can help to thaw it, but it should not be operated around standing water due to the risk of electrocution. Heating water on the stove and soaking towels in the hot water, then wrapping them around cold sections of the pipe can also work. Always start thawing pipes closest to the faucet and make sure the faucet is turned on so melted water can drip out.

If a pipe does burst, the water should be shut off at the main valve. If the pipe is used for hot water, the valve on the top of the water heater should be closed. A plumber should then be called.

It is best to know the location of the main water valve and the valve on the water heater for quick access in case of an emergency.

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