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Arctic air is bringing record low temperatures all across the country, but there are things homeowners can do to protect their home and property during cold weather. 

Freezing and bursting pipes can cause significant damage to homes. Homeowners can follow these simple steps to help prevent frozen pipes and home damage:

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.

When is it cold enough for pipes to freeze?

Field tests of residential water systems subjected to winter temperatures demonstrated that, for un-insulated pipes installed in an unconditioned attic, the onset of freezing occurred when the outside temperature fell to 20°F or below. However, freezing incidents can occur when the temperature remains above 20° F. Pipes exposed to cold air (especially flowing air, as on a windy day) because of cracks in an outside wall or lack of insulation are vulnerable to freezing at temperatures above the threshold.

If You Suspect a Frozen Pipe:

If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don’t take any chances. Call a plumber.

If a Water Pipe Bursts:

Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house); leave the faucet(s) open until repairs are completed. Don’t try to thaw a frozen pipe with an open flame; as this will damage the pipe and may even start a building fire. You might be able to thaw a pipe with a hand-held hair dryer. Slowly apply heat, starting close to the faucet end of the pipe, with the faucet open. Work toward the coldest section. Never use electrical appliances while standing in water.