Because water expands as it freezes, whatever is containing the water has tremendous pressure placed on it, many times creating a rupture. According the American Red Cross, pipes that most frequently freeze are “water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.”
Jeremy Vanmeter of Twin Lakes Plumbing reports that after two solid weeks of responding to burst pipe calls, the need for plumbing services in response to busted pipes has dropped significantly over the last few days. But with a new round of near 0° weather making its way to the Bluegrass, precautions need to be taken.
Vanmeter offers these tips for increasing the likelihood that pipes will remain unfrozen:
- Leave hot and cold water dripping during times of non-use.
- If you have water pipes running through your walls, leave kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open so heat can get to the pipes.
- Know where your water main in case you do need to shut your water off for repairs.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° Fahrenheit.
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe 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, portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. DO NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene, or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, or if the frozen area is not accessible, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may also freeze.