Water has the unique property of expanding as it freezes. This expansion puts pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most often are those exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines or pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
- Drain water from swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines. Do not put antifreeze in these lines; it is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Remove, drain, and store outdoor hoses. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside valve to allow water to drain and keep the outside water valve open.
- Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas, such as the basement, attic, etc.
- Consider installing products made to insulate pipes like a "pipe sleeve," " heat tape", or similar materials. Many products are available at your local building supply or hardware store.
Cold Weather Precautions
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
- When the weather is very cold, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night
Thawing Frozen Pipes
- Apply heat to the frozen section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, hair dryer, portable space heater, or wrap pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use any open flame device.
- Keep the faucet open as the pipe begins to thaw
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored
- Check all other faucets in your home; if one pipe freezes, other may also freeze