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Prevent Frozen Pipes
When the pipes in your home burst, it can quickly become a costly and burdensome situation. Here are some tips to prevent your pipes from bursting.
Why Pipes Burst
As water freezes, ice expands by 9%. In a closed plumbing system, this expansion can cause pressure to increase downstream - from 60 PSI to over 200 PSI, for example. This increased pressure can ultimately cause the plumbing to fail.
When Is It Cold Enough to Freeze Pipes?
In this region, weather scientists advise taking plumbing precaution at around 20° Fahrenheit (F). However, the greatest risk of damage is when temperatures hit single digits over several days.
Before Cold Weather Hits
- Have your plumber's phone number handy and ready to go in case of an emergency. WaterOne staff cannot fix internal plumbing. You will need to call your plumber for assistance inside your home.
- Know the location of your water shut-off valve and test it regularly. If a pipe breaks, you won't want to have to find it then, or worse, wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you. In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawl space, on a wall facing the street.
- Keep your meter pit or curb stop valve accessible and the lid closed. In case of emergency, call WaterOne to turn off the water at the pit or cub box near the street.
- Turn off and drain automatic and manual sprinkler systems before the first freeze. The alternate freezing and thawing of water in the system can create cracks and weak spots, triggering silent underground leaks or small geysers. Locate your main shutoff for the irrigation system. Make sure your outside Backflow prevention equipment is prepped for winter temperatures.
- Turn off outdoor faucets and be sure to disconnect hoses from them. Make sure the faucet and the outside portion of the pipes are fully drained. A valve inside many houses will shut off the water's flow; then open and close the tap outside to release any water in the pipe. Disconnect the hose to ensure that freeze-proof faucets will drain and to avoid damage to the hose from freezing water. If you do not have a separate shut off for the outdoor faucets, put a protective cover over your outside faucet. Faucet covers are cheap & available at most hardware stores.
- Winterize unheated or vacant buildings. Significant property damage and water loss can occur before burst pipes are discovered in vacant buildings. If your vacant building has a fire protection system, make sure there is no danger that the water servicing this system might freeze.
- Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze.
- If your home has a crawl space, make sure to take care of that as well. You can block off crawl space vents with insulation to prevent cold wind from getting to pipes under the house. Rigid insulation (like foam board) can be cut to size to fit vents leading to crawl space.
During a Deep Freeze (Single Digit Temperatures)
- Keep cabinet doors open if the cabinet has exposed pipes (like the cabinet under your sink), so that household air can warm them.
- If you have an attached garage, keep garage doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed through this unheated space, leaving it vulnerable to winter's worst.
- Slightly open a faucet farthest from the place where your water enters the house. A very slow drip will keep water moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Consider placing a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.
- Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.
Going out of town for an extended period? Call us for a precautionary water shut-off at 913-895-1800 to prevent pipes from freezing while you're gone. Trip charges apply.
If You Think a Pipe Has Already Frozen
Don't wait for nature to take its course. Safely thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help. WaterOne employees can not enter customers home and fix internal plumbing.
If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve. You don't want water suddenly gushing from the pipe when it thaws. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work towards the coldest section. Remember, slower is better. A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate. A blow torch is not. Don't use electrical appliances while standing in water; you could get electrocuted.