In cold temperatures, water service lines can freeze if frost is pushed below the water line. Water lines inside the home can also freeze due to extreme wind chill and cold drafts.
Repair costs associated with frozen pipes are the responsibility of the homeowner. You can help prevent frozen pipes by keeping your home heated at normal levels to avoid cold spots.
The sooner a frozen line is thawed, the better. Over time, freezing will extend further along the line and make thawing more difficult, time-consuming and potentially more costly.
To prevent a frozen water line
- Insulate the outside lines: wrap any water lines near outer walls or doors with insulation. You can wrap your exterior water lines with heat tape to help prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the water flowing: frequently drawing water from the tap, or leaving a small trickle running from a tap, may prevent freezing because it creates a constant flow of water.
- Turn off outdoor hoses: double check your outside hose faucet to ensure they're closed off; if they freeze, they can burst and may cause water to drain into your home.
- Check your hot water tank: if your hot water tank is located in a maintenance room outside of your home, make sure the area is adequately heated.
- Ask your house sitter to run the water: if you are going away on vacation, ask the person who is checking in at your home to run the taps for five minutes to reduce the risk of freezing due to low flow in the water service. Running water through the lines in cold weather makes it less likely that they'll freeze.
- Don't forget about outdoor water features: if you have a pool or decorative water feature, turn the motor on and keep the pump running and the water circulating.
To determine if a service line is frozen
You can help diagnose the problem by turning on all the faucets inside the house and flushing each toilet. If no is water flowing from any fixture and there is no known water main break in your area, it's likely you have a frozen service line outside your home on your property.
If you have a frozen service line
The sooner a frozen line is thawed, the better. Here are a few simple tips to protect against freezing pipes:
- If you have a frozen pipe, taking the right steps to thaw it will help avoid damage to the pipe, line or plumbing system. Never attempt to thaw your line with an open flame. A hair dryer can be used to warm a narrow pipe.
- If you are unable to thaw your water lines, contact a plumbing or heating company for assistance.