Preventing and Coping with Frozen Pipes
Frozen water pipes can be a problem at best and a disaster at worst for your Maryland home: A simple 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release 250 gallons of water a day – enough to fill about three average-sized bathtubs. That kind of output could cause cosmetic and structural damage to your home and even create a dangerous long-term mold problem – something you definitely want to avoid.
The good news is that by taking a few simple precautions, you can prevent the expense and aggravation that frozen pipes can cause. Here is some advice for how to prevent frozen pipes, and how to deal with them if they happen.
Tips for avoiding and dealing with a frozen pipe emergency
- Insulate pipes in uninsulated rooms, including your crawl spaces and attic.
- Seal air leaks near and around pipes using caulk or insulation.
- Shut off and drain water pipes leading to outdoor faucets.
In freezing weather:
- Run a trickle of hot water down your pipes to keep them from freezing.
- Make sure your thermostat is set high enough to keep your pipes warm as temperatures drop overnight.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks.
If you are going on vacation or own a second home that sits empty in winter:
- Set the house thermostat to no lower than 55°F; do NOT turn the heat off.
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your home during cold snaps.
- Shut off and drain your water system before heating season.
If your pipes have frozen:
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with a hair dryer if you start by warming the pipe close to the faucet and work toward the coldest section of pipe; never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
- If this approach doesn’t work, contact a professional plumber.
If your water pipes have already burst:
- Turn off water at the main shutoff valve in the house; if you don’t know how to do this, contact us. Teach everyone in your family where the water shutoff valve is and how to close it.
- Once you have closed the main shutoff valve, contact a plumber.