Winter Weather Plumbing Tips

With cold weather upon us, it is important to know some tips to keep your pipes from freezing. This will help in the long run, and will also help you avoid any plumbing problems during the cold weather season. As temperatures drop, close all air vents and any other openings you may have in the crawl space under your home. It is important to monitor the temperature and open one or two vents in warmer weather for ventilation. When it is cold outside, you should never have your home’s thermostat set below 55 degrees. Insulating your pipes is also a good idea, especially pipes that are prone to freezing. These could be pipes near an outside wall, in unheated areas of your home, or pipes that are exposed, such as outside spigots. In an emergency, layering the pipes with newspapers or rags can be used as a temporary insulation technique.

Always keep the cover of your water meter box securely in place to prevent it from freezing during colder periods. If the temperature is expected to fall below 20 degrees, leave water dripping slowly from the faucets. Also, in extremely cold temperatures, you should leave cabinet doors under sinks open to keep the warm air circulating. It is always a good idea to know where your home’s master valve is located in case of a line breakage. Typically, the master valve is located where the water line from the meter enters the house. This could be located in the crawl space, or in the utility room near the hot-water tank or washer and dryer systems.

If your pipes freeze, you can use a hair dryer with a low setting, a heat lamp or a light bulb to gradually warm and the effected pipe. Be careful while doing this, and make sure that the heat is evenly distributed through the pipe. Too much heat in one spot can cause the pipe to burst. Always be extremely cautious when using any electrical appliance to thaw a pipe. If this appliance becomes wet you run the risk of electrocution. NEVER use a blow torch or any other type of flame to try and thaw a pipe, because this may end up causing a fire. In addition to the danger of flame, extreme heat could thaw the pipe too rapidly, causing it to burst and could result in serious injuries.

If you cannot locate the freeze and no water is coming out of any tap, there is a chance that your service line or your meter is frozen. In that case, you should call your local utilities company to get it fixed. If it is not your meter that is frozen, it is more than likely that the service line to your home is. In the case of a frozen service line, you may need the assistance and services of a plumber.

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