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How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing (And What to Do When They Freeze)

Home Repair
Every year when winter comes, home owners and residents find themselves scrambling to prepare for the realities of harsh cold weather. Winter can be a fun time of the year, but only if you are adequately prepared for it. If you are not prepared, you will quickly find that winter is the most troublesome and stressful season. When the weather turns, the house problems can mount, making it quite the chore just to go about your day-to-day life. Thankfully, there are good ways to prepare.

One of the best things you can do to prepare for winter is make sure that your water pipes are ready for the cold temperatures. Temperatures are reaching record lows, so the probability of having frozen pipes is high. Frozen water pipes can be a gigantic trouble. When your pipes freeze, water flow gets blocked and can burst the pipes, causing flooding and thousands of dollars in damage. Plus, broken pipes temporarily mean no water for your house. So it’s best that you prepare to make sure you don’t get stuck with ice in your pipes and nothing but air in your faucet. Here are a few ways to prevent frozen pipes and some tips on what to do in the event that your pipes do actually freeze.

How to prevent frozen pipes
Insulate: The single best way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to insulate them. Insulation is extremely affordable and very easy to install. You can install some simple pipe insulation for $20 or $30 and avoid having to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs. While it’s best that you insulate all of your pipes, it is most important that you make sure to insulate the areas of pipe that are exposed to the coldest weather, such as any places where the pipes travel outside of your house or run along an outside wall (a wall that isn’t insulated). Remember, it only takes your pipe freezing in one location to entirely block your water flow.

Periodically run the water: The longer that water is stagnant, the easier it will freeze. So it’s important that you run water through all the pipes with some regularity. You don’t need to waste water by leaving faucets on, but make sure that those guest bathrooms that don’t get used often get their faucets turned on every once in a while. This will keep the water moving and prevent the ice from forming. If you anticipate a cold night coming up, turn on all the rarely used faucets in the house for at least a few seconds to get the water running.

Heat your cold rooms: It goes without saying that the coldest areas of your house are likely to be the culprit if pipes freeze. That means that your basement is just waiting to freeze your pipes. If pipe insulation isn’t enough (or you don’t want to install it), buy a space heater for your cold rooms and turn it on periodically to keep the ambient heat high enough to prevent freezing.

If your pipes freeze
If your preventive tactics are too late, have no fear. Here are two good ways to handle frozen pipes:

Thaw them: You can thaw your pipes with space heaters, hair dryers, or warm towels. You want to be sure to avoid anything that could be harmful or dangerous, such as fire or torches. When you’re thawing your pipes, make sure to have your faucet on; that way, when a little bit of the ice melts, the water will have somewhere to go, which will expedite the process (and also let you know if you’re having success).
Plumber II
Call a plumber: If you aren’t able to easily thaw the pipes yourself, call a professional plumber. If you don’t know what you are doing, you can do serious damage to your plumbing system and even to your house. Plumbing should only be done by those who know what they are doing.

With these tips, you will be able to handle frozen pipes or prevent them from freezing in the first place.

This article was written by father and home handyman, Jared Miret. Jared recommends calling Doug Turner Plumbing if you are unsure how to handle your frozen pipes.