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Frozen Pipe Prevention and Mitigation

February 2020

As temperatures fall, there are some precautionary measures that you can take to avoid a costly frozen pipe incident.

 
  • Insulate pipes exposed to the elements. By keeping your water warmer, you reduce the amount of energy needed to heat water in the cold winter months.

  • Inspect your building to identify “at-risk” pipes. If your building is under renovation or construction, consider wrapping pipes and/or turning off the water to limit breaks or spillage.

  • Consider placing an insulating dome or other covering on outdoor faucets or spigots to reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing, expanding, and causing a costly leak.

  • Allow for airflow. Keep doors or cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate and help avoid freezing. Pipes located along exterior walls are more subject to freezing.

  • Let cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes to reduce buildup of pressure in the pipes. Running water through the pipe, at even a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

  • Set thermostat(s) to the same temperature during the day and night.

 

If your pipes do freeze, here are some ways to mitigate the damages:

 
  • Keep the faucet open. As the frozen area starts to melt, water will flow and help melt ice in the pipe.

  • Apply heat to the frozen area using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or towels soaked in hot water.

  • For another effective quick fix, wrap the frozen area of the pipe with thermostatically controlled heat tape ($50-$200 depending on length).

  • Use a portable space heater, kept away from flammable materials, to warm under the house (never leave the heater unattended).

  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored.

  • If you cannot find the frozen area, if the area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

 

As tempting as it may be, DO NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open-flame device.

 

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