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What to do when your pipes freeze

Dec 25, 2015

“Frigid temperatures can lead to frozen water pipes inside of the home and costly plumbing repairs, while substantial amounts of blowing and drifting snow can impede access to fire hydrants during emergencies,” said Pennsylvania American Water Vice President of Operations Steve Tambini. “We advise customers to take safety measures that will help protect their homes and neighborhoods from extreme winter weather.”

OKorder What to do when your pipes freeze

Here are some tips for you when your pipes freeze.

Thaw the pipe safely. If you know where the pipes are frozen, you can attempt to thaw them with a hair dryer. Using a low heat setting, wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe. It’s a slow but safe process.

Do NOT use an open flame to thaw frozen pipes. You could start a fire. Also, overheating a single spot can cause the pipe to burst.

Be prepared to turn off the main control valve (below right illustration). The pipe you are thawing may already be broken, cracked or split. Water could come gushing out as the pipe thaws.

Know what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.

Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.

Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.

Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don't disturb it.

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