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Due to cold weather and power outages over Christmas, many households had to leave their homes to find a warm place. My son was one of these. He was worried about his water pipes freezing and bursting. A neighbor gave him some great advice that worked very well, giving him peace of mind and avoiding expensive repairs. Others may like to use this tip if they find themselves in the same predicament.
Just go to the shut-off valve at the meter, and shut it off. Then open all the faucets in the house and let the cold water run until there is no more water coming out of the faucets. This means the pipes are now empty. The reason pipes burst is because the water in them expands as it freezes. So no water----no freezing. Winter is not over yet, so someone may be able to use this tip.
Harlean from AR
We had an unusually cold snap during the last few days in Houston. Many folks had pipes which burst. Others were outside in their cold weather gear wrapping pipes and covering outdoor faucets. It occurred to me that since this must be done anyway, why not do it in spring or in the fall. The pipes to the outside faucets could be wrapped on a warm sunny day and a styrofoam coffee cup taped over the faucet.
By Marty Dick from Houston, TX
To keep your outside water faucet from freezing and getting damaged, keep the hose unhooked during freezing weather. Also, Walmart carries a Styrofoam cover made to hook onto the faucet and keep it covered. It cost about $1.00 and is easy to put on and take off.
In areas with freezing temperatures, if you don't have your pipes wrapped, you can leave your inside faucet dripping (just a small trickle will do, from the furtherest faucet from the water pipe entrance of your home) while you're sleeping so your water lines won't freeze and burst.
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We live in a very old house in Maine. The subzero weather we have been having lately has our pipes bursting constantly. (We use mostly a woodstove to save on money, so our cellar is cold). Is there anything we can do to stop the pipes from bursting? My husband has been repairing pipes for 3 days straight. Our cellar is dirt and the pipes are only copper water pipes, (not heat, as we have forced hot air). We also we were wondering if its OK to turn off the water at the base where it comes into the house or will it make matters worse? Thank you for any advice.
Home Depot or Lowes sells heat tape specifically for this purpose. Also, good idea to leave cold water trickling at all times. Don't know about turning the water off but hope this helps.
On really cold days, I was told to let the faucets trickle on outside walls. My pipes are 100 years old haven't froze yet, maybe I've been just lucky. I also shut off any water I'm not using from the main valves (i.e outside water, unused toilets and sinks)
Before shutting off any water be sure that faucet is left open!
thanks for all your replies...do you think by not using our furnace it is making things extra cold in the cellar and that may be why we are having this bursting pipe problem?
I keep the faucet furtherest from the well ( or watetr source) dripping, this causes the water to move and doesn't freeze. I also heat with wood stove, but don't have a basement, I also keep all outside faucets dripping slowly -= no broken pipes in over 360 years!
In Britain, where the main water water pipes into the house are often routed via the unheated roof space burst pipes happened occasionally in winter, (many houses only had heating from open fires in individual rooms). The recommendation then was to 'lag' or insulate your pipes. This used to be by wrapping them in a hessian type material but now you can buy long split tubes of synthetic rubber type material you just open up and slip onto the pipe.
I don't quite understand the question about turning off the water. Do you mean turn it off and empty the pipes each night when you go to bed? I suppose that would work, but even if you didn't empty the pipes and they still burst it would save a lot of mess as the leakage would be minimised.
It may be helpful to ask what your neighbours do as they must have the same problems and solutions.
If you have a place to plug them in use heat tapes. This is used on mobile homes and it really works. You can purchase them at Loews or other hardware stores.
if you could set up a light bulb in the area that freezes it would be a big help.It is amazing how much heat one light bulb puts out. Also insulate the pipes with the tube insulation .
Yes, if you turn off your furnace, it can make the cellar too cold and cause the pipes to burst. I have heard you should not turn off your furnace, but leave it set at (I think it was) 58 degrees. Also, the suggestions about leaving a faucet dripping are true too. Think of the expense of fixing these pipes as opposed to leaving the furnace on or the faucet dripping. Good luck!
I live in upstate NY and just had my pipes freeze this past weekend. Not only my water, but my sewer pipe too. I have found out that if you position a blow dryer on your water pipe it will thaw it out in a jiffy. Putting table salt down the toilet and waiting with a fan blowing on the sewer pipe in the cellar unthawed that too. Hope this is of help to someone. Finni
HI. We live in the mountains of Colorado in a mobile home and the wind here is awful. Before we moved in my husband put the heat tape all over our pipes. And since we have just skirting and not a foundation he put that bubble wrap silver lined stuff over the foam pipe covers throughout the lenght of the mobile home on every pipe that was not in the house. It froze once and that was because the tape had gotten unplugged by accident when we were putting some tires underneath the mobile home for storage. That was over 6 years ago and never a frozen pipe since. Great stuff and a very insiteful husband. RoseMary
I live in Michigan and have a summer home up north and we put heat tape on our pipes to keep them from freezing. A light doesn't work well cuz sometimes the freezing weather blows out the bulb and then you have freezing pipes again. Make sure the heat tape has a thermostat on them and you don't ever have to remove them and they will come on by themselves when it gets cold. They also have a kill switch in case of a short they will automatically click off. I got mine at home depot but Lowes also has them. Good Luck
The heat tape is an excellent idea but turning the furnace back on would be a great start. The furnace is an integrated part of the house and when used properly it will deliver the right amount of heat to the basement to keep the pipes from freezing. You can reduce the flow of heat to the basement to keep it around 40F or so while keeping the upper portion comfortable. If you choose to use the fireplace also you want to be cautious about the location of it to the thermostat. If the fire gives off too much heat the thermostat will never kick on. You may also want to try leaving the furnace off but the furnace fan on all of the time. That will get a good air flow through the house and may warm the basement just enough... That only works if you have cold air returns to the furnace from the upstairs... Best of luck to you
We live in the Arizona desert and during the sometimes freezing weather have had frozen pipes. That is until we covered them with old blankets or burlap.
There is a product called IceLoc, it is a passive material that is made with an FDA approved material. Its easy to install (feed into pipe) and forget about it. It won't prevent freezing, but your pipes won't burst. www.iceloc.com
Good luck!! Iceloc is starting to be used in the state buildings here in NM and has been used in several different locations back east.
I live in the Boston Mass. area.I have a wood stove on the first floor and I put one in the basement so my pipes won't freeze.The first floor stove heats so well that my furnace won't come on then my cellar becomes cold.The stove in the basement now keeps my cellar nice and toasty.
ICELOC Works awesome www.iceloc.com
We sell an insulated conduit , Insul-seal that is excellent to use. please see it at www.mainewooddoctor.com
Would shutting off water to your house in extremely cold weather prevent pipes from bursting?
By Kally M
I have just purchased a house in Middletown, CT and thought I was being smart by buying a pellet stove to beat the high oil costs. My house is a two-story house with a basement. I installed the stove on the first floor. As it gets cooler I have realized how cold the basement gets now that the furnace never kicks in. My worry is frozen pipes.
My thermostat is also on the first floor so I am thinking it needs to be moved. My first thought was to move it to the second floor and away from the heat. But then I started thinking of moving it to the basement and setting it to 58. The basement move would be far easier than moving it to the second floor but I don't know if it is a good idea or not. Any one out there with some advice/input?
You could put a thermometer in the basement to see how cold it will get. I doubt it will go below 55 degrees. I say that because I live in Maine and that is how cold my basement will get during the winter.
You could insulate the pipes in the basement as I have done. I bought the insulating stuff from the home center and it is made to cover pipes. It just slips over the pipe. You will find it in the plumbing section. I don't understand why you want to move the thermostat. If you put the thermostat in the basement and set it to 58 and the basement cools to 55 I would think the furnace will run a lot and defeat the purpose of the pellet stove. I would insulate the pipes,put a thermometer in the cellar to check the temp and forget about it.
My DH says the thermostat should be where the heater is and the pipes that your worried about all in the same place.
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Start now preparing for winter weather. Winter is coming. Be sure and wrap your outdoor water pipes or use the pipe insulation you can buy at a hardware store. This will save them from freezing and bursting and save a bundle on the plumber bill.
Here in Canada the city installs the "outdoor water pipes" ten feet below ground level. We, as home owners, don't worry about winterizing them. (11/14/2004)