Winter weather can be very unpredictable, especially in the DC metro region. While fluctuating temperatures is a nuisance when determining what clothes to wear, changes in temperature can also put your building or home at risk as pipes can freeze and burst when thawing under warmer weather.
Below are some tips courtesy of the American Red Cross on how to prevent frozen pipes from freezing, along with tips on how to thaw frozen pipes if there is an ice blockage. We’ve also included tips below on how to handle a flood during the winter season.
How to prevent pipes from freezing
Preventing pipes from freezing requires a two-prong approach: before the cold weather arrives and during cold temperatures.
Before cold weather arrives:
- Remove, drain, and store hoses that are used outdoors
- Close interior valves that supply outdoor hose bibs
- Open outside hose bibs to allow water to drain
- Keep outside valves open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break
- Check to make sure hot and cold water pipes are insulated, especially in unheated areas
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve,” UL-listed “heat tape” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes
During cold weather
- Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
- When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night
- If you’re going away during the cold weather be sure to leave your heat on and set to a temperature no lower than 55° F
How to thaw frozen pipes
First, identify where the pipe is frozen and shut off the water valve corresponding to
Below are some appropriate methods further recommended by the American Red Cross:
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored
- Check all other faucets in your home or office to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze too
What to do if you experience a flood
If a pipe bursts and causes a flood then call a licensed plumber. A good website resource to find a local plumber is at eLocal.com. Simply type in your zip code to see registered local plumbers in your area.
Another good source to check out is HomeAdvisor. At HomeAdvisor, simply use the search bar to type in the service you need – in this case plumber – and follow the prompts to fill out your free service request. Once you submit your request, a notification is sent out to local registered vendors that will reach out to you immediately to help you with your plumbing needs.
If your flood cannot be cleaned up with a mop, bucket and towels then don’t fret – simply place two calls to:
1) Your insurance company to report the flood
2) A professional maintenance company that specializes in flood restoration work – Mister Kleen!
Ultimately, you can save yourself the headache, stress, and money by taking a few simple precautions to prevent a pipe from bursting and causing a flood during this winter season. We hope you’ve found this information resourceful, and certainly reach out to us at Mister Kleen should you have a question or are in need of a free cleaning quote.
Mister Kleen is a leading provider of contract cleaning services to Commercial and High Security facilities since 1976. Our primary service area is the DC Metro region. We also provide a variety of interior and exterior specialty services.