When stationary water inside pipes drops to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes can freeze. When water freezes, it expands, which can then break pipes, flood interiors and cause major damage. As a preventive measure, Aqua Pennsylvania encourages homeowners to take the following steps ahead of the severe winter weather:
Make sure the lids on outdoor meter pits are not broken or missing.
Shut off and drain any outside faucets including those for lawn sprinkling systems.
Prevent drafts in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces or basements, by replacing broken glass or making other repairs.
Locate and visibly mark the home’s master water valve. In the event that a pipe does break, use this value to turn off water to the home.
Homeowners can also leave cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to reach pipes. If it is below 10 degrees, customers can also leave a trickle of water (about the size of pencil lead) running overnight.
Aqua Pennsylvania also advises customers to take the following precautions in any unheated areas of their homes (e.g. outdoor faucets, crawlspaces and garages) when temperatures drop below freezing:
Be sure to have a supply of heat tape and pipe insulation, as well as a portable space heater and a hair dryer on hand.
Wrap pipes with insulation material or heat tape and wrap indoor water meters with a blanket.
Proper and safe use of portable space heaters can also keep exposed pipes in drafty areas from freezing.
Customers can thaw areas of frozen pipe by using a hair dryer. Hold the dryer six inches from the pipe and move the warm air back and forth. If this does not work, or the pipe is split, call a plumber.