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What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze

We have been lucky that freezing temperatures have just joined us. With freezing temps comes water-related claims, such as frozen pipes.

Frozen water pipes in your home are a problem in both cold and warm climates, which affect some quarter-million families each winter. Whether your home has plastic or copper pipes, they can freeze.

We are here to discuss some steps you can take to keep your pipes and home safe from a frigid night.

Before Winter Arrives

There are three main causes of frozen pipes; a quick drop in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. You can make sure your home is ready for this in the warmer months.

  • Insulate the pipes in your home’s crawl space and attic, even if you live in warmer climates. Exposed pipes are susceptible to freezing. More insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around the electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. You should use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out. On an extremely frigid day, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
  • Before winter weather hits, you should disconnect garden hoses. Use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. Doing this reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside your home.

When The Mercury Drops

Even if you take the right prevention steps, extreme cold weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you should take:

  • Run your hot and cold water to a trickle might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight from a faucet on an outside wall.
  • Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night can help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Leaving an open cabinet door to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

Before You Leave On Vacation

Getting away from winter weather is good for the soul, but don’t forget about your pipes before you leave.

  • Make sure your thermostat is set no lower than 65°F.
  • Ask a friend or family member to check on your home daily to make sure it is warm enough to prevent freezing.
  • Shut off and drain your water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your home, doing this may deactivate when you shut off the water.

If Your Pipe Do End Up Freezing

Despite all of your preventive measures your pipes still freeze, what do you do? Don’t panic, just because they are frozen doesn’t mean they will burst. Here are a few things you can do:

  • If you turn on a faucet and nothing comes out, leave the faucet on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other kind of open flame. This is a fire hazard. Water damage is preferred to burning down your home.
  • You might be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, then working toward the coldest section of pipe.
  • If your pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house. Leave the faucets on. Make sure everyone in your household knows where the main water shutoff valve is and how to turn it off and on.

As always Frimark/Keller & Associates is here to help you in the event you have a claim. Give us a call at 847-907-4520 and we will be glad to walk through the steps to help you and your family get back to normal.


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