Frozen pipes can be a disaster to a homeowner. One burst pipe alone can cause a tremendous amount of water damage and work for the property owner. 4 to 8 gallons of water run per minute through a pipe and when pipes break, the result can be tens of thousands of dollars.
What many homeowners are unaware of is that pipes freeze and once the water within the pipe is frozen, the pipe bursts. When the water begins to thaw, damage begins. It is a situation in which damage can be caused as quickly as a few minutes.
Homeowners need to not only protect themselves from broken pipes, but also to know what to do should their pipes break.
- Be sure that all the properties shut off valves work. Everyone who occupies the home should be aware of where the Main shut-off valve is and how to shut it off as well as how to turn it on.
- Access any potential problems. Locate where pipes are- the ceiling, outside walls, attics, crawl spaces, etc.
- Locate where cold air comes into contact with pipes and seal the gaps where the air enters. In severe weather condition, especially those with wind, even a small opening can allow enough cold air in and cause a pipe to freeze. Windows, dryer vents, etc.
- Turn off hose bibs outside and drain the houses.
- When cold weather is expected, open potential problems areas like vanity doors and the cabinet below the kitchen sink.
- Pipes that are located on exterior walls allow a trickle of both cold and hot water running.
- If there are crawl spaces near the foundation, temporarily seal them off.
- Keep the interior of the home warm.
When Pipes Break
You may find that you have broken pipes if the water flow decreases or non-existent at a plumbing fixture.
- If you are experiencing a situation with reduced water flow or no water flow switch the “Main” water valve in the home to off. Open the faucets in the home.
- Never try to thaw the pipe with flame.
- Don’t apply any hair dryer or electric heater to the pipe as it can cause water to leak and electrocution.
- Have two people when turning the water back on- one to check faucets and pipes to be sure water is not running while the water is slowly being turned on by the other.
- Be patient with your broken pipes. Keep it warm in the house and if the pipes freeze, find the reason and take care of it to prevent it happening again. If you don’t have broken pipes the first time, the next time, should they freeze again, you might find yourself not as lucky.
- If you have a flow of water- even the slightest, switch the Main water valve to off and turn on the lowest cold and hot faucets in the home- for instance, if you have a basement, then turn on the faucets in the basement.
Leaving Your Home Alone in Winter Months
- Switch the Main water valve to off.
- Keep the interior of the home at a warm temperature. Do not set the interior temperature below 60 degrees.
- Ask a neighbor or family members to stop by the house on a daily basis and check to ensure the temperatures are okay in the home and that there is not damage going on.
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