Prepping household pipes ahead of cold conditions in Virginia

Virginia News

Courtesy: Ángelo González / Dodro / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

(WFXR) — Freezing temperatures can damage plumbing and burst pipes. It’s important to winterize your home and take steps to help prevent your pipes from freezing.

According to the Western Virginia Water Authority, there are a number of ways to prevent pipes from bursting:

  • Let a small amount of water drip from your faucets to minimize the risk of the water freezing and the pipe bursting from the pressure of the expanding ice.
  • Find and seal air leaks that could allow cold air to reach your pipes.
  • Water pipes located next to an exterior wall, in a garage, or any other unheating building are often subjected to cold temperatures. These pipes, as well as any exposed pipes, should be wrapped or insulated.
  • Remember to turn off and drain outside faucets.
  • Open kitchen/bathroom cabinets to all warm air to circulate around the pipes underneath.
  • If your house has a crawl space, close all air vents located in the foundation wall. This will prevent the pipes in the crawl space from being exposed to the cold air.

Even if you take the proper precautions, there’s still the chance that your pipes could freeze.

What should you do if your pipes end up frozen?

The Western Virginia Water Authority says you should open the cold water faucet closest to the frozen pipe to relieve the pressure of expanding ice that may cause a pipe to burst.

If you attempt to thaw a frozen pipe, the Western Virginia Water Authority says you should proceed with caution. The agency says you can use gentle heat from a light bulb, hairdryer on a warm setting, or heat tape to help thaw the pipes. However, if the pipe is already cracked from freezing, as the water thaws, it may begin to spray out. This may result in a risk of electrocution if the water sprays the electrical appliance you are using for thawing. Never use a torch or other open flame to thaw frozen pipes.

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