City News

Posted on: January 4, 2018

What to do when your pipes freeze

Fort Scott Water Department What to Do When Pipes Freeze & Tips to Keep Pipes from Freezing

The Facts About Frozen Pipes

Many mistakenly believe that frozen pipes are only an issue for those in typically cold climates.
However, homes in typically warmer climates are more vulnerable because the pipes may not be
properly insulated against frigid temperatures.

Frozen pipes are a problem by themselves because they prevent water flow, but even worse, frozen
pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. There are some easy steps you
can take to help prevent this problem from occurring. Here are some tips to keep pipes in your home
from freezing.

Typical Symptoms of a Frozen Water Line:

A water line may be frozen if one or more of the water fixtures in a building will not provide
water. If some faucets are dry and others still work, heat can be applied to the affected area or
contact a licensed plumber to assist in thawing of the line. If all faucets in a building are dry, contact
the Water Department, this condition suggest the possibility of a frozen water meter. The Water
Department will check and thaw out frozen meters. The Water Department will also respond to shut
water off at the meter in case of frozen or burst water lines. You may call the Water Office at
223-8133 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or after-hours call the Water Plant at 223-5160 or Police
Dispatch at 223-1700.

Tip #1: Keep the Heat On
If you are leaving for an extended period, make sure that the heat is kept on to your home. Leaving
the heat on can help prevent pipes from freezing, maintain a setting above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is
a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside
from freezing.

Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip
If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the
faucet to be open like this will keep the water moving and reduce the chance of freezing, it also
relieves pressure in the system, so if a pipe freezes, the pressure on the pipe will be reduced, it
is the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that causes the pipe to burst.

Tip #3: Keep Interior Doors Open
Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these
cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You
should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.

Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes
You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior
and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in.

Tip #5: Appling Heat
When thawing out pipes with heat, do not use open flame sources, use of radiant or forced air heat
can be applied, but be prepared to shut water off in case a pipe begins leaking while or when it's
thawed out.

Also, PVC and Poly pipes can become soft if too much heat is applied. For pipes that are easily
accessible, electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing. This tape can be
applied directly to the pipe. There are two types of heating tape. One type of heating tape
turns on and off by  itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type of heating tape needs to
be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use. Keep in mind these products can be
dangerous, so you must follow product directions and safety procedures exactly, and do not leave
pipes unattended while thawing. 

Tip #6: Add Extra Insulation
Pipes located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need
extra insulation to keep from freezing. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in
your home, extra insulation could be the cure. Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass
sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. Additional insulation can also be added to walls
and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.

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