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How Do I Prevent Frozen Pipes?

Frozen water pipes in your home can be a problematic, or even disastrous, winter problem here in New England: a simple 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release 250 gallons of water per day – about enough to fill about three average-sized bathtubs. That’s enough water to cause serious damage, both cosmetic and structural, to your Massachusetts home.

The good news is that by taking a few simple precautions – and having a reliable plumber at the ready – you can drastically reduce the odds of having to endure the expense and aggravation that frozen pipes can cause, or mitigate the long-term problems associated with pipes that have already burst.

Here is some advice for preventing and coping with frozen pipes.

Preventing and handling a frozen pipe emergency

Before winter:

  • Insulate pipes in uninsulated rooms (crawl spaces, attic, etc.)
  • Seal air leaks near and around pipes using caulk or insulation.
  • Shut off and drain water pipes leading to outdoor faucets.

In freezing weather:

  • Run a trickle of hot water down your pipes to keep them from freezing
  • Make sure your thermostat is set high enough to keep your pipes warm as temperatures drop overnight; avoid significantly dropping your thermostat temperature on very cold nights!
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks.

If you are going on vacation or own a second home that sits empty in winter:

  • Set the house thermostat to no lower than 55°F; do NOT turn the heat off.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to check your home during cold snaps.
  • Shut off and drain your water system before heating season.

If your pipes have frozen:

  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with a hairdryer if you start by warming the pipe close to the faucet and work toward the coldest section of pipe; never use an open flame to thaw pipes.
  • If this approach doesn’t work, contact a professional plumber.

If your water pipes have already burst:

  • Turn off water at the main shutoff valve in the house; if you don’t know how to do this, contact us. Teach everyone in your family where the water shutoff valve is and how to close it.
  • Once you have closed the main shutoff valve, contact a plumber.

Need emergency plumbing service for your Western MA home? Our master plumbers are standing by. Contact us to schedule your plumbing service today.