Frozen Pipes

Cold Weather and Frozen Pipes

Cold weather is a big problem for home and property owners- especially if you've moved and your home is setting empty. Why? Plumbing!

If your home gets too cold, the water in your pipes can freeze overnight and then burst in the day when it warms back up. This leaves the potential for extensive flooding and water damage to your home. The frozen water pipes you need to be most concerned about are those that have the most exposure to the cold -- outdoor hose faucets, swimming pool supply lines, underground sprinkler systems, and plumbing in unheated basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages. Water pipes that run against exterior walls are also at risk.

Performing Maintenance On Frozen Taps

When it's cold outside, you should periodically check all the faucets in your home. If it doesn't work or water is just a trickle you may have frozen water in your pipes. Attempt to locate the frozen area by looking in the area most likely to freeze- i.e. the coldest. Use a heat lamp, space heater, hair dryer or electrical heat pad to begin to thaw out the pipes. Remember to keep the faucet open as you work. That's because running water will help melt the ice faster. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored, then consider going to your neighborhood hardware store to purchase insulation for the areas of the pipe that froze (to help prevent it from happening again).

DO NOT use any sort of blow torch or open flame to warm the pipes. I can not stress this enough, so let me say it again. DO NOT use an open flame. First off, an open flame is a fire hazard and if you are working in a confined area there is a threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year there is a story in the news of some person burning down their home or suffocating themselves to death while working on frozen water pipes.

The second reason not to use an open flame is if it gets too hot you can melt your pipes (especially PVC plastic pipes). Third, too much heat too quickly creates the potential for an explosion. That's because water expands as it gets hot. A blow torch or other device will cause the water to boil, and boiling water trapped in the middle of a frozen pipe has no place to expand- so it explodes.

The last piece of advice is always the best... If you fail to un-thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber before the water pipe breaks.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

About The Author

Darin "Sid" Cameron currently works for the STLagent Team of Real Estate Consultants in St Louis, MO. He publishes The St Louis Real Estate Blog on his website at: Mr. Cameron also moderates the St Louis Community Forum Message Board at: © 2005

"If you did not plan on being in your house for an entire 4-5 mounths during the winter. wouldn't it be chesaper, and safer, To have all your utilities shut off, and run all the pipes in the house,including toilets dry? "

Home in Cal.