Frozen pipes: how to prevent bursts

MADISON – You’ve cranked the heat, put on your favorite sweats, and are staying out of the elements. But just because you’re safe from freezing this Alert Day, doesn’t mean your home’s pipes are.

Burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during the winter and can bring a bill of $5,000 or higher. So, it’s not a bad idea to know some prevention tips.

The more at-risk pipes are inside interior spaces like basements, attics, and garages; but, it’s good to protect all pipes. Here’s some advice to keep them safe from freezing: let cold water drip from a faucet to keep water moving, and open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. Make sure to remove any harmful cleaners from the cabinets to keep children and pets safe.

Here’s a couple other tips you might not know: keep your garage door closed and keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. Heating your home during frigid temperatures can be more costly than normal, but a flooded home as a result of burst pipes is a lot more expensive than a heating bill.

If your pipes freeze during this weather, there are a few ways to prevent them from bursting and the mess that follows.

First, you need to figure out if they’re frozen. To do so, turn on your faucets like normal; if only a trickle comes out, there’s good reason to suspect they’re frozen. To thaw them, use a small form of heat on the exposed pipe. Don’t use anything with an open flame, as it can damage the pipe and risks a house fire. Instead, use a hairdryer, portable space heater, or towel soaked in hot water on the pipe. Apply the heat until you have full water pressure again, then check all other faucets in your home to make sure there aren’t other frozen pipes.

If all else fails, fall back on your safety net, and call a plumber.