A faucet that won’t yield water is the first sign of frozen pipes. If a severe cold snap hits, prevent freezing and subsequent bursting of pipes by following the suggestions below. Even if the pipes do freeze, you can thaw them before they burst if you act quickly. When temperatures fall very low, here’s how to keep your pipes from freezing:
- Keep a trickle of water running from the faucets.
- Beam a heat lamp or small heater at exposed pipes.
- Wrap uninsulated pipes with newspapers, heating wires, foam, or self-adhesive insulating tape.
- Keep doors ajar between heated and unheated rooms.
If a pipe freezes:
- Shut off the water at the main shutoff valve and open the faucet nearest to the frozen pipe so it can drain as it thaws.
- Waterproof the area with containers and plastic drop clothes in case leaks occur.
- Use one of the following methods to gradually warm the frozen pipe. Be sure to work from the faucet toward the iced-up area.
- Propane Torch With a flame-spreading-nozzle, the torch will quickly thaw a frozen pipe.
- Safety Tip Shield flammable areas with a fireproof sheet, don’t let the pipe get too hot to touch.
- Hair Dryer Used like the torch, a dryer will gently defrost the pipe.
- Heating Pad Wrap a length of pipe with a heating pad.
- Heat Lamp For pipes behind walls, floors, or ceilings, beam a heat lamp 8 or more inches from the surface.
- Hot Water If no other method is available, wrap the pipe (except plastic) in rags and pour boiling water on it.
When loosening frozen connections, instead of using a wrench to force nuts and couplings frozen in place, douse the connection with penetrating oil. Wait half an hour; then loosen with a wrench.
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