Cold Weather and Frozen
By: Darin Sid
Cold weather is a big problem for home and
property owners- especially if you?ve moved and your home is
setting empty. Why? PLUMBING!
If your home gets too cold, the water in your
pipes can freeze overnight and then burst in the day when it
warms back up. This leaves the potential for extensive flooding
and water damage to your home. The pipes you need to be most
concerned about are those that have the most exposure to the
cold -- outdoor hose faucets, swimming pool supply lines,
underground sprinkler systems, and plumbing in unheated
basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages. Pipes that run
against exterior walls are also at risk.
What to do?
When it?s cold outside, you should
periodically check all the faucets in your home. If it doesn?t
work or water is just a trickle you may have frozen water in
your pipes. Attempt to locate the frozen area by looking in the
area most likely to freeze- i.e. the coldest. Use a heat lamp,
space heater, hair dryer or electrical heat pad to begin to
thaw out the pipes. Remember to keep the faucet open as you
work. That's because running water will help melt the ice
faster. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored, then
consider going to your neighborhood hardware store to purchase
insulation for the areas of the pipe that froze (to help
prevent it from happening again).
DO NOT use any sort of blow torch or open
flame to warm the pipes. I can not stress this enough, so let
me say it again. DO NOT use an open flame. First off, an open
flame is a fire hazard and if you are working in a confined
area there is a threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year
there is a story in the news of some person burning down their
home or suffocating themselves to death while working on frozen
The second reason not to use an open flame is
if it gets too hot you can melt your pipes (especially PVC
plastic pipes). Third, too much heat too quickly creates the
potential for an explosion. That?s because water expands as it
gets hot. A blow torch or other device will cause the water to
boil, and boiling water trapped in the middle of a frozen pipe
has no place to expand- so it explodes.
The last piece of advice is always the
best... If you fail to unthaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber
before the pipe breaks.
How to keep it from
Your home should have inside valves on your outdoor water
supply lines. Close them, then open the outside faucet and let
the water drain. Leave the outside faucet open all
Drain and store outside garden hoses.
If you haven?t already done so, drain the water from your
swimming pool and lawn sprinkler system. As mentioned above,
insulate plumbing that's most susceptible to freezing. You can
find supplies at your local hardware store, Home Depot, or
During severe cold weather, let the faucets drip. Although it's
no guarantee, even a trickle of water can help prevent pipes
from freezing and an open faucet gives the water someplace to
run once it starts to warm up.
Keep the home temperature set to no lower than 55 degrees
Fahrenheit. I know it?s tempting to turn the thermostat down
when you leave town for a few weeks or if you have an unsold
home that is setting empty, but the higher heat bill is quickly
offset by the cost of repairing a pipe and cleaning up water
Lastly, if you experience flooding or water damage from a
broken pipe, be sure to watch the home for mold or mildew.
Black mold can be a serious after effect to a flooded home
that?s far worse to deal with than the actual water