Many homeowners don’t think about their water pipes freezing until it’s too late. Because water expands when it freezes, a frozen pipe can not only mean no water in your house, but it can quickly become a burst pipe, costing you time and money to repair.
Pipes that are more exposed to freezing outdoor temperatures include: Unheated areas of your home, such as the basement, crawl space, attic or garage, a kitchen or laundry room sink that sits against an outside wall, outdoor water spigots and sprinklers or water lines to a swimming pool. Pipes that are in, or receive drafts from, improperly insulated walls spaces are also susceptible to freezing.
Before freezing temperatures set in, drain all pipes in affected areas that you won’t be using. Store hoses indoors, drain the outside spigot and leave it open. Close off valves on inside lines that lead to the spigot outside.
Add insulation to your basement or crawl space, if there is none. Buy a solid foam pipe sleeve or heat tape to wrap around pipes exposed to cold. Even multiple layers of newspaper can serve temporarily, in a pinch.
Open cabinet doors that hide exterior wall water pipes so the heat in your home will prevent freezing, and when the forecast calls for sub-freezing temperatures, open faucets near outside walls to a slow trickle. Keep indoor temperatures constant, even at night, and if you plan to be gone for more than a day do not set your furnace below 55 degrees.
If a pipe does freeze, keep the faucet open and wrap it with an electric heating pad or heat with a hair dryer or space heater. Avoid dangerous heating sources that use an open flame, or using space heaters without directly supervising them in use. You could also wrap the pipe in towels soaked in hot water. If none of these methods work, or if you can’t find the source of the frozen section, call a trusted plumber.