One of the biggest residential non-emergency calls to the Elmhurst Fire Department involves frozen water pipes. Without proper precautions, cold weather can cause serious plumbing problems. Water pipes, plastic and copper, can burst if the water within freezes. Plumbing repairs to fix frozen pipes and meters can be very costly, but you can prevent these expenses.
Caulking, sealing, weather-stripping and other efforts to improve the energy-efficiency of your home will help decrease the risk of a frozen pipe. Other suggestions:
- Unhook any hoses that are connected to outdoor faucets.
- If you typically set your home's thermostat down to save energy while you're away, do not set it lower than 55 degrees.
- Have a neighbor periodically check your home, especially on extremely cold days.
- If the temperature is zero or colder
- Turn on at least one faucet (if possible on an exterior wall) with a small, pencil-sized stream running.
- If you have a larger, two-story home, let a small stream run from a second faucet upstairs.
- Open cabinet doors to warm pipes under sinks.
If your pipes freeze
- Use your master shut-off valve to cut the water flow to the home or business immediately.
- Call a licensed plumber.
Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or any other kind of open flame. This can be extremely dangerous. If you proceed carefully, and you are not in an area of standing water, you may be able to thaw a pipe with a hair dryer. Do not attempt this without talking to a plumber first. After a frozen pipe is thawed, turn the water back on very slowly while watching carefully for any leaks. Be prepared to shut your water off at the master valve in case of a leak.