Typically this time of year we all dread the cold and bitter weather we experience here in Michigan. It can be especially rough when this cold affects your water supply. Broken or frozen pipes can cost a significant amount to homeowners not to mention the damage they can create. Here are some tips for making sure you are protected:
1. Do not expose water pipes to subfreezing temperatures: Fill cracks and holes in outside walls next to water pipes, insulate pipe with insulating wrap found at hardware stores or plumbing supply stores or use heat tape wrapped around the pipe to keep it warm.
2. Let the faucet run: Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It's not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow. The running water will allow relief from building pressure in the pipes so they do not burst.
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. Don't use electrical appliances while standing in water; you could get electrocuted.