"Frozen pipes can be an extremely costly problem if proper precautions are not taken," states Mary Thompson, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. "Oftentimes, homeowners find themselves unprepared when winter weather hits, leading to burst pipes and costly repairs." Stay safe, stay warm, and observe some simple tips for keeping your home freeze-free:
1. Insulate home pipes: Cover faucets and exposed pipes with insulation or wrap thick towels around them.
2. Secure basement doors, windows and crawl space openings: Caulk, seal and weather-strip.
3. Drain outside waterlines: Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets, close interior valves that lead to outside hose taps and open hose taps to drain.
4. Apply electrically-powered tape to pipes: follow manufacturer's instructions or call the local Mr. Rooter plumber to do this.
5. Wrap the water heater with an approved manufacturer's blanket.
6. Open cabinet doors. This allows heat to circulate and keeps interior pipes warm.
7. Keep faucets running. A constant drip of water is recommended when temperatures drop below freezing for more than 24-hours.
8. Don't set thermostat lower than 55 degrees when traveling. Ask a neighbor to check on the home during below freezing temperatures.
9. Locate the main water shut-off valve and learn how to use it in the case of frozen pipes or burst pipes.
10. Have a hair dryer handy, in case the pipes end up freezing. Heat the exterior of the pipe with the hair dryer by slowly applying the heat and moving the dryer constantly.
The first step to safely thawing frozen pipes is turning off water at the main water shut-off valve. Next, open the nearest faucet to allow water to drain as the ice melts. Now it's time to use the hair dryer to heat the pipes, or wrap a hot, wet rag around pipes. Do not attempt to thaw exposed frozen pipes with an open flame, such as an acetylene torch. If no one in the home is a do-it-yourselfer or the homes pipes burst, be sure to call a qualified plumber. "We'll be available 24/7 to help those having a plumbing emergency," Thompson said. "This can be a stressful time for homeowners, and we understand the urgency they feel."