Depending on the diameter of the pipe, it can take only a matter of hours to freeze during cold temperatures. Take the following precautions to protect your pipes:
- Insulate water lines in unheated areas of your home (i.e.: garage, attic, basement, crawl space, etc.)
- Let the faucet drip to keep the water moving through vulnerable pipes (such as those located on an exterior wall)
- Keep cabinets or vanities open to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures and detach outdoor hoses from faucets allowing connecting pipes to drain
In addition, it is important to know where the master shutoff valve is located (typically where the water line comes into the home from the street) in case a leak occurs due to a freezing pipe.
During an extended and extreme cold period, pipes may freeze despite taking the precautions listed above. Using a low setting on a hairdryer is the safest way to thaw a frozen pipe. Wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe rather than concentrating on a single area. If a hairdryer is not available, wrapping the pipe with towels and pouring hot water over them is another option. Never use a torch with an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. This could cause a fire or overheat a section of the pipe and cause it to leak or burst.