How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

Cold temperatures can cause water pipes to freeze, rupture, flood, and cause water damage to your home. Water damage and a hefty repair bill is something we would all like to avoid.

Water pipes most at risk for freezing are those in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics, and garages. Unfortunately, even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze. To prevent frozen pipes, we recommend you take the following steps:

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 located on an exterior wall.

Let cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running a trickle of water through the pipe can helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Make sure exterior water faucets have hoses removed and the water is turned off with the inside shut-off valve. Hopefully, this step was completed in the fall during milder temperatures. Some people cover their exterior faucets with insulated covers for additional protection from freezing temperatures.

Eliminate drafts from cracks, vents, windows, or doors near your pipes, and insulate pipes in unheated parts of your home.  Also, check around electrical outlets for cracks that allow cold air to enter your home. First, insulate or weatherstrip the drafty areas, then seal the gaps with caulk.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If a water pipe is broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the mainline enters the house (call a plumber if there is a serious problem).

If the water is still running and no pipes have burst, you can take the following steps:

Turn on the faucet. As you safely warm the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through the blockage.  Running water through the pipe should 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 (kept away from flammable materials). As tempting as it may be, do not use a blowtorch, a kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes, start a fire, and create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Check all other faucets inside your home. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

If you suspect your water meter is frozen, please call Modern at (509) 928-4540.