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Five Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

By Karin Mangan
Five Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

With winter well under way, it is in your best interests to make sure you know what to do to prevent your home and your wallet being damaged by frozen pipes. The following tips should help to keep your water pipes in good working order through even the coldest winter conditions.

Precautions: Tips on How to Stop Your Pipes from Freezing

  • Allowing the faucet to drip helps to prevent the water in your pipes from freezing because moving water freezes less easily. Just put a bowl under the tap to collect the drips and avoid wasting water. A dripping faucet also helps to prevent the pipes from bursting if a freeze does occur--pipes burst because of a pressure build-up due to the water expanding as it freezes.
  • In areas affected by extremely low temperatures, it can be worth investing in heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables to wrap around the pipes and stop them from freezing. For safety's sake, only use approved products that are intended for this use and follow manufacturer's instructions carefully.
  • Exposed pipes, such as those in your home's crawl space, attic, or on outside walls are most susceptible to freezing so insulate these well with rubber or fiberglass insulation.
  • Use caulking or insulation to seal around the point where pipes enter your home because even a small leak of cold air from outside can be enough to freeze the pipe.
  • If you are going away for the holiday season, you could shut off and drain your home's water system--if there is no water in the pipes, they won't freeze. After shutting the water off at the main valve, turn on the taps and let them run until no more water comes out. Just remember to turn the taps off to avoid a deluge when you turn the water back on. Alternatively, set the heating to come on at regular intervals to keep the temperature in the house above the freezing point.
  • Consider re-routing pipes that are vulnerable to freezing.

Emergency Action: Tips on How to React if Your Pipes Have Frozen

  • If a pipe has frozen but hasn't burst, try to thaw the frozen pipe by gently warming it using a hairdryer or rubbing it with warmed cloths. Do not use a blow torch. Start at the faucet end of the pipe and work your way along toward the coldest section.
  • If you think the frozen pipe may have burst or cracked, turn off the water at the mains and call a plumber.

These tips can help you enjoy the festive season without the inconvenience and expense of frozen pipes.

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