pipes: causes & cures
pipes are a major wintertime problem during periods of
extremely cold weather. As freezing water expands, it
generates enough pressure to burst pipes & fixtures.
When frozen pipes thaw, flooding can result & cause
can occur in any water pipe exposed to temperatures of
32°F or below. However, freezing is unlikely in
pipes when water is flowing. Pipes in attics, crawl
spaces & unheated rooms are particularly susceptible
to freezing. Pipes in exterior walls also may be frozen
w/ temperatures below freezing during severely cold
weather. This problem has become more common in homes
where the thermostat has been set back to conserve energy
or is near a space heater.
& fixture freezing is also a problem in unheated
homes that have not been winterized. Related precautions
& remedial steps go beyond the scope of this
information sheet, however.
problems are likely
& fixtures that have frozen
pipes in unheated rooms, attics, or crawl
running in exterior walls.
reduce the chances of freeze-up
water trickle from fixtures & make sure the drain
remains open & clear.
use of low, nighttime thermostat settings during
periods of extreme cold. You will use a little more
fuel, but this will provide added protection to pipes
during these periods.
pipes are frozen
the taps of frozen fixtures to help relieve pressure
& reduce the chances of bursting pipes. Be ready
to turn them off when the pipes clear.
temperatures in the home to help warm pipes,
especially those in outside walls. The thermostat can
be turned up or space heaters can be used to warm
individual rooms. The opening of cabinet doors will
also facilitate warmer air's reaching frozen
frequently use a torch to thaw frozen pipes. This is
dangerous. In addition to a high risk of fire, there
is also danger of overheating a section of the pipe.
Excessive heat in one spot can cause water to boil in
the pipe & possibly explode. Leave this practice
to a professional.
may also be applied to pipes by use of rags soaked in
hot water or w/ devices such as hair dryers.
Electrical equipment should be used only if you are
familiar w/ the needed precautions associated w/
preventing electrical shock.
may be practical to relocate pipes to provide
increased protection from extremely cold temperatures.
Consider this step during remodeling
pipes provides little protection from freezing. No
heat is added to the pipes. The insulation merely
slows the rate at which the pipes freeze.
applied to crawl-space walls (where a work area makes
this possible) will maintain higher temperatures in
such places. In addition to providing some protection
for pipes here, the floor above will be somewhat
warmer & fuel savings will be
the house is vacant during part of the season, arrange
for someone to check it daily for
familiar w/ your main water supply
the main water supply valve (usually in the basement
or utility room).
the condition of the valve & learn how it
operates. Look for rust & corrosion & make
sure the valve is functional. If it is not, arrange
for necessary repairs.