Preventing Frozen Pipes

Frozen Pipes – 20 minutes can save you thousands of dollars & a major headache

These simple steps can help you prevent frozen pipes when the temperatures plummet.

The pipes most at risk are those in unheated interior spaces such as basements, attics, and garages. But even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze. The good news is there are some easy things you can do to keep your water running and your house dry.

  • Keep your garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. (If you have small children or pets, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)
  • Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing. And if the pipes do freeze, the release pressure in the water system will reduce the likelihood of a rupture.
  • If you normally turn the thermostat down at night, don’t do it during frigid temperatures. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night.

Don’t forget your outdoor faucets.

In frosty temperatures, the outdoor water spigots installed on the wall of your home can easily freeze and burst. Unfortunately, the rupture in the pipe often occurs just inside the walls of your home, where it can lead to water damage if not quickly spotted. But it’s easy to prevent this problem with a couple of winterizing steps.

  • The first preventive step is to disconnect garden hoses. A hose that remains attached to the faucet may prevent residual water from draining. This trapped water can then freeze and cause the faucet to burst.
  • The next step is to install an outdoor faucet cover over each spigot on your home. These cost less than $10 each and can be purchased at local hardware stores and home improvement centers. They are very easy to install and are cheap insurance against potentially costly damage.
  • If you want to take an extra precaution and your home has a separate shut-off for external faucets, turn it off and drain the water from those faucets.
  • Turn off and drain sprinkler systems. You may want to call your professional service provider to find out the best steps for your particular system.

Here’s how to thaw frozen pipes if you wake up to problems.

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, it’s likely a frozen pipe. There are a couple of steps you can take to try to solve the problem yourself.

  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • To find the frozen section, just feel for where it is colder than the rest of the pipe. Apply heat to the section of pipe that is frozen, using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. DO NOT use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Keep applying heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Call James River Air if you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe.

What to do if you have a burst pipe?

When a pipe ruptures, act quickly to prevent as much water damage as possible until you can get professional help from a plumber.

  • If the rupture is near electrical fittings or cables, turn off power to the area.
  • Turn off the water supply.
  • If hot water is leaking from the pipe, turn off the supply valve coming from the water heater.
  • If your pipes aren’t frozen, open the faucets to drain the water. If the burst pipe is frozen, repairs need to be made before it is thawed.

Caution: If you need to drain the water from your pipes, first turn off your water heater according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

We hope that these simple preventive steps will save you from having any problems. But if you do end up with frozen or burst pipes that you cannot fix, our experienced plumbers are ready to come get your pipes running properly. Just give us a call at (804) 358-9333!