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Frozen Pipes in Freezing Weather

It doesn’t get very cold for very long here in Houston, TX, but this week is one of the coldest ones I can remember.  No, we don’t have a blizzard, but the temperature is between 15 degrees and 39 degrees for 3 days straight.  That is really cold for me, lol.  Here is how we are preventing and handling frozen pipes:

Prevent Frozen Pipes

1. Insulation 

The front and back yard water pipes are insulated and wrapped with duct tape.  The insulation is old and thin – I should have replaced it by now, but that is what we have.  If you don’t have foam insulation handy, any sort of cloth or fabric will work well as long as it’s wrapped around the pipe and is at least half an inch thick.

2. Disconnect Hoses

We heard from several sources that we should disconnect our hoses from our outside faucets.  We have done that and stored the hoses.

3.  Open Cabinets

By opening bathroom cabinets, you are allowing the warmer air of the house to reach the sink pipes.  All of our cabinets were open last night except for the ones in the kitchen since I didn’t want our dogs to eat or drink the cleaners…

4.  Drip Faucets

A lot of sources suggested we drip our indoor and outdoor faucets.  I also found the suggestion that they should drip at least every 5-10 seconds.  I wish I had followed that advice since all our faucets dripped fine overnight except the one in that back yard that is now frozen.  Hence the next section…

If Your Pipes Freeze

1.  Leave the Faucet Turned On

If you try to turn on the water and nothing comes out, leave the faucet turned on.  A few insurance agencies suggest you immediately call a plumber.  I prefer another suggestion I found…

2.  Thaw the Pipe (but not with an open flame)

You can try thawing a pipe by using multiple hot, wet rags, but that can take a while.  I also found a few suggestions to use the warm setting on a hair dryer, which I will be trying when I get home.  If you are using a hair dryer, remember to start close to the faucet itself and then work your way out.  Don’t use the hair dryer around puddles please – electrocution would be bad…

Has the crazy winter weather led you to learn anything new?

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4 comments to Frozen Pipes in Freezing Weather

  • These are good tips to follow. I had not heard about having the outdoor faucets drip. Turning the faucets on to drip keeps the water circulating in the pipes and moving water does not freeze as easy or fast as water that stands still. Look at water in a puddle versus a river that is moving.

    About four years ago when we lived in CA I wrapped the outside hose spigots but the main water line still froze. So I tried to shut off the water at a valve on the main line and the handle broke off! Good thing it was still in the open position and being in property management I knew a plumber that did the job for me for $50 and a twelve pack of beer. That would have been a $200 job, easy.

  • @IPA, isn’t it awesome to know the right people? My husband’s grandpa has saved us hundreds on our air conditioner, lol.

  • Babci’s pipe’s froze the day it got down to -14 here. We kept our house at 55 but even though the pipe was insulated there is a small spot that was touching the foundation (really dumb design).

    The one thing we did is we turned the water main off in case it thawed and burst so we didn’t have to deal with a flooded cellar in addition to broken plumbing. Thankfully it didn’t burst. We thawed it with a space heater. Good Tips, thanks.

  • @First Gen, I am so glad it worked out! That is a dumb design…