Cold Likely To Bring Plumbing Problems
Posted: December 7, 2013 at 5 a.m.
Glacial temperatures through the weekend will ramp up the risk of frozen and burst water pipes.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Water expands as it freezes and puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages and kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run in exterior walls with little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Tips to prevent pipes from freezing:
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.
w When very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe — even at a trickle — helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and at night. You may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
• If you're away, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees.
• Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
• Make sure your water meter lid is firmly on the meter box. Do not remove the lid because insulating air in the box will be released. If the meter has frozen before, pack newspapers, leaves or insulation around the meter in the box, replace the lid and cover it with leaves or insulating material.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the frozen area of the pipe.
• Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
• Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, and electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable material), or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.
• Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
• Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, as well.
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