Frozen Water Pipes: Prevention and Troubleshooting

Freezing weather may bring discomforts but one of them, frozen water pipes, can be avoided with a little planning and a few simple steps. When frigid arctic air hits, water freezes, it expands—causing pipes to burst and possible flooding to occur.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold such as outdoor hose bibs, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas such as basement and crawl spaces, attics, garages or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

There are several things that people can do to prepare for freezing weather, including:

  • -Seal off any cracks that admit drafts to the basement, garage or crawl space containing water pipes or your water meter.
  • -Keep all doors and windows tightly shut at all times and make adequate heating available to these areas.
  • -Insulate all exposed water pipes; using pipe insulation or UL approved pipe warmers.
  • -Protect your water meter from drafts by insulating it too.
  • -Let water run at a slow trickle from faucets to connected lines that you know are prone to freezing.

One other important thing that everyone in your household should know:

Determine where the water shut-off valve is in the house and how to use it in case pipes freeze and burst. Being able to turn water off quickly will minimize damage from broken pipes.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR PIPES BECOME FROZEN:

If there is water in part of the house, the frozen pipe is inside your home.

If you can pinpoint the location you may be able to thaw it by gently heating the air around the pipe. For instance, leave cabinet doors open under the kitchen or bathroom sinks to let warm air in. if that does not work, call your plumber.

If there is no water anywhere in your house, the service lateral is probably frozen.

This is the pipe that carries water from the public main in the street to your house. If this line is frozen, it will have to be thawed electrically. Call Algoma Utilities and they will send a crew to inspect and thaw the line. After a line has been thawed the first time, it shall be the responsibility of the property owner or tenant to have the line thawed if it should freeze again (Permanent prevention of this problem requires either lowering of your services pipe below the frost line and or insulating the services pipe).

This message comes to you from our friends at Algoma Utilities and WPPI Energy.

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