The Outer Banks has been very fortunate this year and we have not yet had frigid winter temperatures which could cause pipes to freeze. While we can’t control the weather, there are things we can do to prevent pipes from freezing. Here are some tips to help prevent frozen pipes and list of suggestions for you to follow if your pipes do freeze:
Prevention could be the difference between dry or damaged. Frozen water pipes and the damage they can cause are a reality for many Outer Bankers each year. That’s especially the case when our temps are below freezing for multiple days in a row.
To prevent pipes from freezing and causing major damage, follow these steps:
- Drain water from pipes that are likely to freeze. This includes your shower and/or any exposed pipe.
- Disconnect water hoses from the outside of your home, drain the hoses and store them. Make sure to close the indoor valves supplying these outdoor access points or cover them with faucet insulators.
- Insulate the area around vents and light fixtures. This helps prevent heat from escaping into the attic.
- Seal any wall cracks. Be sure to pay careful attention to the areas around utility service lines.
- Open kitchen cabinets. This allows the warm air to circulate around the pipes.
- Keep the garage doors closed to protect water lines if applicable.
- Allow your faucets to drip cold water on the coldest days. The movement will make it harder for the water to freeze. It is also recommended that you allow all faucets to drip or run at a steady stream.
- Keep your thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Never let it fall below 55 degrees when you leave your home.
- Ensure you have proper seals and weather stripping on all doors and windows.
- Place a 60-watt bulb in areas where you’re concerned about pipes freezing. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.
- Take swift action if the pipes located inside an exterior wall are freezing. Many have suggested using space heaters, hairdryers and also making a tenant with a blanket over a chair to funnel warm air from heater source into cabinets to expose frozen pipes to warmer air.
If you attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep your faucet open. Water and steam will be created during the thawing process, and your pipes need an opening to discharge this. Keeping the faucet open also allows for moving water to run through the pipe, which will expedite the thawing process.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, scouring the area with a hairdryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well. Never use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, a charcoal stove or any other open flame device to thaw your frozen pipes. You should also avoid using a space heater unless you are sure the area is clear of any flammable material.
- Continue applying heat until water flow returns to normal. Once you have successfully thawed the pipe, turn on other faucets in your home to check for any more frozen water pipes.