(INDEPENDENCE, Mo.) Wednesday, February 5, 2014 – The extreme cold temperatures, combined with the wind chill, creates a substantial risk for frozen or burst pipes. As freezing water turns to ice within the pipe, it expands and can block the line. This blockage can create excessive pressure throughout the system and cause pipe failure in vulnerable places – whether the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash more than 250 gallons of water in a single day.
Follow these tips to help minimize the risk of frozen pipes, and to help prevent damage and expensive repairs.
• Open cabinet doors under sinks and in storage areas to allow heat from the room to circulate around uninsulated pipes.
• Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to drip overnight; however, be careful not to run the water into a drain line exposed to the extreme cold, as that line could freeze.
• Insulate all pipes in unheated areas or against uninsulated outside walls, such as in garages or crawl spaces.
• Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes which are exposed and prone to freezing.
• Make sure the heat is turned on in the building and is set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If the heat goes out due to a power outage, shut off the main water supply line.
If You Have Frozen Pipes
• Shut off the water main leading into the structure to reduce pressure on frozen pipes and minimize flooding if the pipes burst.
• Use a hair dryer to thaw the ice blockage if the frozen pipe is exposed and visible. Never use electrical appliances while standing in water as you could be electrocuted. Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe as this will damage the pipe and may even start a building fire.
• If frozen pipes are not visible, contact a plumber.
• If you notice slower water flow and suspect frozen pipes, you should call a plumber immediately.