Posts from January 2013

Preventing Frozen Pipes


With the blast of cold air this past week one concern that comes to mind is frozen pipes. A friend of mine had a cold water pipe freeze at her house this week, but fortunately they were home and able to fix the problem. When a pipe does burst it can create a very nasty claim and lots of damage if you are not home when it happens.

Here are some tips to prevent frozen pipes.

Outside plumbing tips:

- Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
- Close all foundation vents and fill vent openings with wood or Styrofoam blocks
- Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs with insulation if you don’t have a separate outside valve to turn them off. Use molded foam-insulation covers which are available at hardware stores. Newspaper or rags (covered with plastic wrap) are another option.
- Disconnect garden hoses and drain in-ground irrigation systems.

For inside plumbing:

- Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and basements.
- When below-freezing weather is forecast, open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows these pipes to get more heat from inside your home.
- If you leave home for several days, put your furnace on a low setting. This may not prevent freezing pipes but it can help.
- Let a slight drip of water run when temperatures dip below freezing. Use cold water to avoid water heating charges.

What if pipes freeze?

Thaw plumbing lines safely with a hair dryer or heat lamp. Once the pipe has thawed, make sure to leave a little water running so the pipe doesn’t freeze again. Do not open the water meter box near the curb. It could increase the chance of freezing water at the meter.

What if pipes break?

Close your main water shut-off valve to your house. Most shut-off valves are located where the water line enters the house, either at the front of your house where you connect your hose, or basement near the hot water heater, or inside the garage.
Turn off the water heater. Locate the dedicated shut-off valve on the cold water inlet.
Remember, the repair of broker pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the customer’s responsibility. Contact a plumber for repair work.
Hopefully these tips will help prevent problems at your house this winter! Click here to learn more about protecting your home from frozen pipes.

Information courtesy of the Portland Water Bureau.