Cold Weather Tips
Action Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Electric, Inc.
Tips For Cold Weather
During a Deep Freeze (-5 Degrees and Below)
Recently, Action Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Electric, Inc. owner Curt Johnson was featured on WISC Channel 3 News in a story about protecting your home from damage due to frozen pipe during the bitter cold snaps that are experienced during the winter months.
- Keep garage doors closed during cold weather. Many homes have the laundry room next to the garage with plumbing in the garage wall. When the temperatures fall, the lines to the laundry box can freeze and split causing quite a bit of damage. When we are called out to repair this type of plumbing problem, we add a return grill in the wall to allow warm air to circulate around these pipes.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.
- Remove and carefully store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose faucets to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip (at a minimal amount) from the faucet served by exposed pipes. This can also be done for indoor faucets, both cold and hot water, that are serviced by pipes running through outside walls. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent frozen pipes by providing a pressure relief point for excess pressure that can build up between the faucet and ice blockages when freezing does occur.
- Seal off cracks, air vents, windows, and doors. Often overlooked, broken basement windows, cracks in walls and worn or missing insulation around doors and air vents are funnels for cold winter winds. Whistling through overlooked openings, they can rapidly freeze exposed water pipes.
- Holes in an outside wall where telephone lines, cable or television wires enter can also provide access where for cold air to reach pipes. These should be sealed to prevent this from happening.
- Insulate pipes and faucets in unheated places. Pipelines in unprotected areas, such as garages or crawl spaces under the house, are subject to a freeze when temperatures plummet. Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes that are prone to freezing.
- During extreme cold, keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.
- If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF, turn water off at the main shut-off and drain the pipes.
- Know where the main water shut off valve for the house is. Sometimes it is located near the hot water heater or washing machine. More often, it is located near where the water line comes in to your house from the street. In the event of frozen or split pipes you may need to use this valve to shut the water off to the house to prevent water leaks and flooding until a repair is made.
- Make sure your furnace filter is changed on schedule. During colder weather your furnace works harder and longer, and dirty furnace filters can cause the furnace to overheat and cause it to shut down.
- If you have a discharge hose attached to your sump pump outlet make sure to remove it to prevent it from freezing. A frozen line will prevent water from being discharged by the sump pump and can cause an overflow or broken pipe in the basement.
Pipes Frozen Already?
If you think you know where the pipes are frozen, you can try to thaw them on your own.
- Never use a torch or other open flame to thaw pipes – you could easily set fire to the entire house. Overheating a pipe in a single spot can weaken the pipe and cause it to burst. If you overheat a soldered pipe joint, the joint could leak or come completely apart.
- You try using a standard hair dry on its lowest setting to slowly thaw the pipes. Wave the dryer back and forth across the spot where you think the pipe is frozen.
- You can also try wrapping the frozen pipe in towels or rags and then pouring hot, but not scalding, water over them. It’s a bit messy but effective.
- Be aware that frozen pipes may already be broken. As you thaw the pipes, be prepared for water to come gushing out as they thaw. Have someone standing by at the water shut-off valve, or be prepared to make the mad dash to it yourself, if necessary.
If your pipes are frozen, and you don’t want to risk attempting the thaw them yourself, Action Plumbing can thaw out those pipes for you. We don’t use torches for thawing, so there is no risk of a fire from an open flame. We thaw the pipes safely, using electric machines so that there is no damage to the wall or ceiling from an open flame.
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