Learning how to prevent the occurrence of frozen pipes is one of the most crucial precautionary actions you should get familiar with when harsh winter weather hits. The optimal time to winterize your property is before the outside temperature falls below freezing.
Refer to the information below on how to prevent pipes from freezing—as well as some practical advice on how to thaw frozen pipes in a pinch.
Locate Your Shut-off Valves and Pipelines and Conduct Preventive Maintenance
The first step in preventing frozen pipes is to locate your main water shut-off valve and understand where your plumbing runs throughout your house. Depending on the age of your home, the exact location could vary, but the garage, basement, laundry room, or yard are potential places. It’s advised to have your heating and plumbing systems serviced annually so you can stay on top of minor concerns before they escalate into more serious ones during a freeze.
Drain Your Outdoor Water Lines Annually
To prevent outdoor water pipes from freezing, winterizing your home and garden is essential. Every fall, homeowners should disconnect and drain hoses, close valves on outdoor hose bibs, and completely drain any outdoor water connections to sprinkler systems and swimming pools.
Turn on Faucets Ahead of Freezing Weather
If you anticipate a chilly spell, leave a few taps running slowly in the rooms with the lowest temperatures in your home (where pipes would most likely freeze). This age-old method works because the water flow can stop pipes from freezing. If your faucets are old and prone to leaking or breaking down, consider getting them repaired or replaced.
Maintain Your Property’s Temperature
When the outdoor temperature is at or below freezing, keep your home especially warm.
Even if you’re away from home on a cold day or night, never entirely turn off the heat. While your HVAC system is turned off, your pipes are far more likely to freeze and even burst.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
Don’t worry if your best efforts to prevent pipes from freezing failed to fend off the cold: these instructions on how to defrost frozen pipes will assist you minimising or avoiding any water damage
Firstly, identify the frozen pipes. Open each faucet in your house completely if you think one or more of your pipes may have frozen. A frozen pipe is indicated if any of the spigots only produce a tiny bit of water. Next, keep the affected faucet(s) open. While you continue to work on defrosting the pipe from the outside, keeping the faucet open will aid in melting ice in the pipe.
Lastly, you should warm up the frozen pipe segments. This can be done in a number of different ways, and none of them require an open flame. Here are the options:
- Apply an electric heating pad to frozen pipe sections
- Put a portable space heater next to the frozen pipes
- Wrap the pipes in towels soaked in hot water, rotating them as necessary
- Use a hair dryer set to the highest heat setting on the frozen sections
A plumber is strongly advised if your frozen pipes are located behind walls or in a small area. Should you discover one or more burst pipes as you are thawing, turn off the main water supply and contact a plumber!