Frozen Pipes can be one of the most damaging things to happen to your home.

Prevention starts before cold weather arrives.

  • Know where the main water valve to the house is, how to operate it, and verify that it works properly.  Also know how to access and operate the valves that shut off the water to each faucet.
  • Turn off all outside faucets, remove hoses and drain lines if possible.  If your hose Bibbs are self-draining, draining the line may not be necessary, but disconnecting the hoses is a must.
  • Seal any gaps around the house, especially near water lines. In very cold or windy weather, even a small hole can be enough to freeze lines.  Close off crawl space vents (but don’t forget to open them again in warm weather)
  • If possible, reroute water and drain lines that are located in outside walls of the home, into a warmer area such as up through the floor of the cabinet instead.

When temperatures are expected to drop:

  • Keep the house warm.
  • Open cabinet doors under sinks, especially sinks on outside walls.
  • Run a small stream of both hot and cold water, especially in the sinks on outside walls.
  • Keep an eye on these sinks.  If the drain line freezes, there is no place for the water to go, and that can cause a flood also.

If you do have a frozen pipe: (The first sign of a frozen line is lower flow or no water at a faucet.) Heat and patience are the best tools to thaw frozen pipes.  Do not use an open flame or any electric appliance applied directly to pipe, as these can cause fire or electrocution.

  • If it’s only at one faucet in the kitchen or bath – make sure the cabinet is open and heat can get to pipes.  Leave faucets  – both hot and cold – turned on and monitor closely until water begins to flow.  Also monitor closely for water leaks in pipes leading to faucet.  Be ready to quickly shut off main water valve to house in the event of a leak.
  • If at multiple faucets  – turn off main valve to house, and leave faucets open.  Leaving the faucets open can help to relieve excess pressure in the line which causes pipes to split.
  • Periodically check to see if lines are thawed by slowly turning main water valve back on slightly.  Two people are recommended, one at valve, and one to monitor for leaks.  If  water is flowing and all seems ok, slowly turn water back on the rest of the way.
  • Leaks are not obvious until the pipe thaws.  The water freezes first, but until the water starts flowing again, the leaks may not show up.  Be very observant when the water begins to thaw, and ready to turn the water off quickly.
  • If a leak occurs, turn main water valve to house off immediately, and open the lowest faucet in the house.  (basement sink, for example)
  • Once a line has frozen, have it inspected as soon as possible, even if it did not leak.  Pipe fatigue may cause it to burst next time.