There are several measures that can be taken to prevent winter water disasters.
- Locate and mark the main water cutoff valve for your home. This cutoff valve is usually found near where the water line comes into your house.
Damage from running water can be minimized if you can turn off this valve quickly.
- Make sure the water line to outside hose bibs are turned off and the line is drained.
- Consider wrapping or insulating your water pipes, especially those pipes near outside walls, under the house, or in the attic. Insulation supplies are available at your local home improvement/hardware store.
- Find a contactor to install heat tape on particularly vulnerable pipes.
- Eliminate drafts. Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just as a cold water supply line can freeze if water is not running through the pipe, and the water temperature becomes cold.
- If your water pipes do freeze, never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. You can use a hair dryer or portable heater, but always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.
- If you will be away from your home, keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature and open doors to make sure all areas with water pipes are kept above freezing.
What if I lose the heat source in my home?
If you are staying in your home, or will be monitoring your home frequently, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. At a minimum, the dripping faucet should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water cutoff valve. Also, consider allowing a slow drip in areas that are least protected from the cold (basements, crawl spaces, attics, the garage). But, remember even moving water will freeze at 20˚F.
If your water pipes do freeze, never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch. You can use a hair dryer or portable heater, but always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.