As the cold weather continues, exposed pipes are likely to freeze. This is especially true if they’re located in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics and garages. Pipes that run along poorly insulated exterior walls can also be affected by temperature extremes.
Continuous freezing and thawing can cause pipes to weaken and break. Water damage from burst pipes can result in mould, and if the damage isn’t repaired quickly or effectively, the build-up of mould can render a house uninhabitable. That’s why it’s important for you to know that although your homeowner’s policy may cover damage from burst pipes, most likely it doesn’t cover damage from mould.
The best way to prevent this nightmare scenario from happening is to be proactive and prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Install adequate insulation in outside walls that have pipes running alongside, under the floors above the basement, and above the attic ceiling.
- Disconnect the garden hose before the cold weather begins.
- Wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves.
- Seal foundation cracks in crawlspaces.
- Open the cabinet doors under your sinks during extreme cold weather to allow warm air to get in.
- Run a small trickle of water through cold and hot water faucets attached to pipes that could potentially freeze.
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, your pipe is probably frozen. Here are some tips on how to thaw the pipe safely;
- Keep the faucet open. As the frozen area of the pipe begins to melt, the water flow will help dissolve the ice.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen with an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable electric space heater, or with towels soaked in hot water. Don’t use a blowtorch or other open flame devices. A blowtorch can quickly boil frozen water and cause the pipe to explode. Plus, open flames are a serious fire hazard and can increase your exposure to carbon monoxide.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you’re unable to locate or access the frozen section of the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all the other faucets in your home: if one pipe has frozen, others may have too.