How to Avoid Frozen Pipes During the Winter Months
It's cold here in the Northeast! Temperatures are hitting single digits and we've already had over a foot of snow in our South Jersey region. Here's how to prepare for the freezing pipe hazards that come with colder weather. Picture provided by our partner Utica National.
Before It Freezes
- At-risk pipes are in unheated parts of a building, exposed pipes, those in or along outside walls of a structure, pipes under a sink by an outside wall, and any in unheated attics or crawlspace. Make sure these pipes are protected. To do this, wrap them with trash bags, plastic foam or rags. Be aware that driving wind impacts these areas as well as temperature.
- If there are vents around the home's foundation, make sure they are covered.
- Make sure the outdoor water meter box's lid is secured tightly. The box should also be insulated.
- Ensure all electrical pumps outdoors are protected.
- Drain any water hoses that are kept outdoors. After they have been drained properly, store them in a garage, shed or basement.
- All water supply lines leading to sprinklers should be drained properly.
- Make sure the thermostat is not set lower than 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Check your policy requirements for specific heat settings required when your home is unoccupied or vacant. Change the batteries in your thermostat if needed.
- To make sure warm air reaches the pipes under sinks, open the cabinets below bathroom, kitchen and utility room sinks.
- Indoor faucets should drip very slowly. If they are not dripping, it is easier for the pipes to freeze.
- When leaving town for an extended period of time, turn off the water supply using the shutoff valve and drain all plumbing appliances. Consider installing a water alarm that alerts you if water is detected. Be aware most policies contain limitations of coverage if your home is unoccupied and you have not properly protected it against damage. Ask your agent for details of your particular policy language.
If the Pipes Freeze
- If a pipe freezes, turn the water off at the shutoff valve immediately. If the broken pipe cannot be located, call a plumber immediately.
- Do not use open-flame devices on frozen pipes. This produces a carbon monoxide exposure risk.
- If a pipe is frozen but has not burst, use an electric heating pad to thaw it. A towel soaked in hot water or a hair dryer will also suffice. Since cracking ice may cause a pipe to shatter, move the heat source frequently. After doing this, turn on a faucet until the water pressure returns to normal.
- Home insurance policies require that you take necessary steps to prevent further damage, so take pictures and keep any receipts of preventative steps you take.
If you're away from your home
- Arrange for a house-check with a local plumbing and heating company
- Look for temperature and water alarms that will alert you of problems
We're here to help. Please contact us with any questions.