With cold weather quickly approaching in many states, it is important to be prepared and to know what to do in a situation where your pipes have frozen. This will help in the long run, and will also help you avoid any plumbing problems during the cold weather season. As temperatures drop, close all air vents and any other openings you may have in the crawl space under your home. It is important to monitor the temperature and open one or two vents in warmer weather for ventilation. When it is cold outside, you should never have your home’s thermostat set below 55 degrees.
Insulating your pipes is also a good idea, especially pipes that are prone to freezing. These could be pipes near an outside wall, in unheated areas of your home, or pipes that are exposed, such as outside spigots. In an emergency, layering the pipes with newspapers or rags can be used as a temporary insulation technique.
You should always keep the cover of your water meter box in place securely to prevent it from freezing during colder periods. If the temperature is expected to fall below 20 degrees, leave water dripping slowly from the faucets. Also, in extremely cold temperatures, you should leave cabinet doors under sinks open to keep the warm air circulating. It is always a good idea to know where your home’s master valve is located in case of a line breakage. Typically, the master valve is located where the water line from the meter enters the house. This is usually located in the crawl space, near the water heater, or by the washer and dryer systems.
In the case that your pipes do become frozen, you can use a hair dryer with a low setting, a heat lamp or a light bulb to gradually warm and the effected pipe. Be careful while doing this, and make sure that the heat is evenly distributed through the pipe. Too much heat in one spot can cause the pipe to burst. Always be extremely cautious when using any electrical appliance to thaw a pipe. If this appliance becomes wet you run the risk of electrocution.
DO NOT any type of a flame, such as a blow torch to try and thaw a pipe, because this may end up causing a fire. In addition to the danger of flame, extreme heat could thaw the pipe too rapidly, causing it to burst and could result in a serious injury.
If you cannot find out where the freeze is located in the pipe, and no water is coming out of any tap, there is a chance that your service line or your meter is frozen. In that case, you should call your local utilities company to get it fixed. If it is not your meter that is frozen, it is more than likely that the service line to your home is. In the case of a frozen service line, you may need the help of a professional plumber or plumbing company