Cold Weather Increases Likelihood of Burst Pipes

Cold Weather Increases Likelihood of Burst Pipes

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The coldest weather in years is now descending upon most of the country bringing with it frigid temperatures and related problems not usually experienced by many homeowners including frozen pipes.

frozen pipeAs temperatures drop below 20 degrees fahrenheit, pipes with little or no insulation can crack and spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, soaking furniture, and ruining personal items. Cleaning up after a pipe burst is time consuming and smelly work, made even more difficult by the frigid temperatures.

One insurance company, State Farm, is reminding its customers to take several precautions now before the worst of the cold weather hits:

  • Avoid frozen pipes by insulating pipes that run along outside walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Disconnect outside garden hoses, wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape, and seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

In addition, there are two simple tasks homeowners can do in about two minutes that can help protect pipes and homes when a severe freeze is predicted:

  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
  • Run a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.

Should your pipes end up freezing anyway, you can carefully thaw them out on your own.  You need to locate which section of the pipe is frozen (usually the area where the water pipe enters the house or along exterior walls) and then heat that pipe up by pointing a hair dryer at it and running it back and forth. You can also face an electric space heater at the pipe, but that option will take longer than the hair dryer to unblock your pipes.

Do not use a blowtorch as it can quickly boil the water in your pipe and cause it to burst. Also, do not use a kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device as they can cause a fire as well as increase your exposure to deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

If you still can’t get your pipes unfrozen, then call a plumber.

Fortunately, severe cold weather generally lasts for just a few days before warmer temperatures move back in, removing the threat of bust pipes at least for the moment.

Source: State Farm

Photo Credit: Lyris Godoy

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Categories: Home Tips