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Why Do Water Pipes Freeze?

Frozen water pipe

Posted: January 17, 2020

We all know it can get downright cold here in the Delaware Valley but so far, for all intents and purposes, we’ve had a fairly mild winter so far. Of course, that could all change in a hurry. Remember all the shivering we did during the polar vortex?

One of the biggest worries when we get locked in a deep freeze is, of course, losing heat in your home, which often results in the real possibility of water pipes freezing.

A freezing pipe is at risk of bursting, and a burst pipe can cause lots of trouble—and be very expensive to repair. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you avoid this serious problem.

  • Leave your thermostat set no lower than 60° F if you plan to be away from home in winter—we suggest keeping it even higher if temperatures are forecasted to be especially frigid when your home is vacant.
  • Plug or caulk holes that allow water lines to be exposed to cold air.
  • Open kitchen cabinet doors, allowing heat into areas where water pipes may be located.
  • Check in and around your home for water lines in colder or unheated areas. Insulate both cold and hot water lines in areas such as your garage, crawl spaces and your attic. Consider a heated cable or electric heat tape if the area remains cold and can’t be easily warmed up.
  • If the cold weather is sustained or severe, allow a small trickle of warm and cold water through the faucet.

What happens if your pipes do freeze?

  • Leave the water faucet slightly open.
  • Use a hair dryer or space heater—never use a device with an open flame—to thaw the frozen section of the pipe.
  • Keep the area as warm as possible, or wrap pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape to keep pipes from freezing again.
  • Call a plumber immediately if you see any water coming from the pipe.

Wilson Oil and Propane is committed to your comfort, especially during severe winter weather. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us so they can help to keep you stay safe and warm during anytime you are concerned about your heat.