Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on water pipes. (Staff Photo: Kathy Jefcoats)
MORROW — The weather outside may be frightful and damp but it can remain delightful and dry inside when residents follow tips and suggestions to avoid burst water lines.
Clayton County Water Authority spokeswoman Suzanne Brown said customers should know what to do to avoid frozen pipes and ways to safely thaw them out.
“With temperatures continuing to stay at or below freezing, busted water pipes are on everyone’s mind,” she said. “Clayton County Water Authority officials are offering tips to help residents avoid the messy and often expensive issue of busted pipes.”
Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets, she said. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
“Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage,” said Brown. “Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.”
When the weather is at or below freezing outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe — even at a trickle — helps prevent pipes from freezing, she said.
“Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night,” said Brown. “By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.”
A frozen pipe is often indicated when only a trickle of water comes out of the tap.
“Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation,” said Brown. “Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.”
Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater kept away from flammable materials or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water.
“Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove or other open flame device,” she said. “Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber. Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.”
To prevent frozen pipes, consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing, said Brown. Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
“Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces,” she said. “Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas. For more information, contact a licensed plumber or building professional.