Cold Weather Can Cause Frozen Pipes

frozen pipe

The frigid temperatures in New England lately have been causing havoc with the water pipes! Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on water pipes. No matter the “strength” of the pipes, expanding water can cause them to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation can also freeze.

Before the cold weather begins I tell clients to make sure they drain water from the swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines. Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs 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. Check around the house to locate unheated areas where water supply lines are located. Check the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.

Now that we are in the teens for temperatures you have to take preventative action!

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Keep the thermostat set between 66 to 68 degrees during the day and at night. By suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 64 degrees. Also while away, it is a good idea to have someone check on your home daily. If you lose your heat, and the weather is in the teens it generally doesn’t take longer than 24hrs before your pipes will start freezing.
  • If your pipes do freeze please call a licensed plumber.
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