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How Do I Prevent My Pipes From Freezing?

Written on: January 16, 2023

AFC’s expert plumbers are here to help!

frozen plumbing maine The mention of frozen pipes can strike fear in the heart of Central Maine homeowners.

Frozen pipes can burst and cause water damage in your home, leading to expensive repair and remediation costs. AFC’s plumbing service is staffed with plumbers who are all licensed and experienced and are here to help if you end up with frozen pipes.

We’re also here to help with information that can help you avoid frozen pipes, so you have peace of mind.

Tips to prevent frozen pipes

The best way to stop your pipes from freezing is knowing what to do.

  • Some things can be done ahead of time. For example, drain water from any pipes which are at a high risk of freezing ahead of winter. This includes pool and sprinkler supply lines.
  • Before the winter arrives, don’t forget to detach any outdoor hoses from your home and empty out any water that remains inside them. Afterward, place these hoses in a dry location such as your garage for safekeeping. Additionally, close off all interior valves connected with those external access points. Cover hose spigots with an insulating cover, which can be found at your local plumbing or home improvement store or online.
  • If you have an attached garage, keep the door closed to keep the cold air away from water lines.
  • Put your programmable or smart thermostat to work to protect your pipes. Never set the thermostat below 55° Fahrenheit, especially if you are going to be away from home for more than a day or so.
  • Keep the warm air from your home’s heating system inside your home. Insulate the areas around vents and light fixtures. Seal any cracks in walls, paying attention to areas near utility services lines. Use caulk and weatherstripping on doors and windows to seal out drafts.
  • Pay close attention to your local weather forecast so you know to also keep an eye on your pipes. When very cold weather is approaching, run your faucets at a low trickle to keep water moving. Also, be sure to open kitchen cabinets and lower vanity cabinets in bathrooms to allow warmer air to reach the pipes.

My pipes are frozen. What do I do?

Even with prevention, extreme cold can lead to frozen pipes. The first thing to do is not panic. You may be able to solve your frozen pipes problem without them bursting and leading to damage in your home. Here are some steps to take.

  1. Keep your faucet open. As pipes begin to thaw, water and steam must have a release in order to escape. By keeping the faucet open, you are allowing for moving water to travel through the pipe which will accelerate the thawing of the pipe.
  2. Use heat to help thaw pipes. To unfreeze the pipe, you can warp an electric heating pad securely around the frozen area. Other options include using a hair dryer or towels soaked in warm or hot water to heat up the pipe. If you use a heating pad, only use it for a short while and do not leave it unattended as it may be a fire risk.
  3. DO NOT use the following methods to thaw pipes. You must exercise extreme caution when thawing frozen pipes; never employ a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, charcoal stove, or any other open flame device. These dangerously increase the risk of fire. Using a space heater is only recommended if you are sure that no flammable material is present in the vicinity, and it will not be left unattended!
  4. Check for other frozen pipes. After you have successfully thawed your frozen pipe, check other faucets in the home to make sure no other pipes are still frozen.
  5. Act immediately if frozen pipes are along an exterior wall. In order to prevent further damage, it is imperative that you act quickly if the frozen pipes are located inside an exterior wall. Call AFC right away, as thawing the pipes may necessitate creating a hole in the house’s interior wall in order to expose the pipes to warmer air.

Whatever your plumbing needs are, AFC’s team of licensed, experienced plumbers can take care of you! Contact us for a FREE estimate.