When water freezes, it expands. This expansion puts pressure on pipes and can cause them to break. Before that happens, add your home’s pipes to your list of seasonal preventative maintenance items.
Any pipes that are exposed to severe cold or outdoors need to be checked regularly. Other water supply pipes that are in unheated areas, such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages or kitchen cabinets, plus any pipes that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation, should also be checked.
How to Protect Your Pipes Before it Gets Cold
- Drain water from exterior pipes prior to cold weather.
- Remove, drain and store hoses used outdoors.
- Add insulation around pipes.
- Consider installing products made specifically to insulate water pipes.
Ways to Keep Water Lines from Freezing in the Winter
- If you have water supply lines in your garage, keep the door closed as much as possible.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so warmer air can circulate.
- When it gets very cold, drip water from your faucets to prevent freezing. Even a trickle helps to prevent frozen pipes.
- Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and at night.
- If you are going away, leave your heat on, and do not set your thermostat below 55.
How to Safely Thaw Pipes if They Freeze
- Keep the faucet open. As the water begins to melt, it will flow through the frozen area and help melt the rest of the ice.
- Apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. You can use an electric heating pad to wrap it, an electric hair dryer or a portable space heater.
- Check all your other faucets to make sure they are not also frozen.