Protect your Pipes from the Cold
Preparing Pipes in Your Home for Winter Weather
- When water standing inside a pipe freezes, it can expand causing the pipe to break. Pipes that freeze are often exposed to the outside or are in unheated interior areas such as kitchen cabinets, attics, garages, basements and crawl spaces.
- Before the onset of cold weather, help prevent frozen pipes by following these recommendations:
- Remove, drain and store garden hoses.
- Close the inside valves, or bibs, that control the water supply to outside hose attachment.
- Open the outside hose bibs to allow any water in the line to drain out. Keep this outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- You may want to install a "pipe sleeve" for water pipes that are not insulated. Building supply stores carry these and other supplies for insulating pipes.
- If you go away for an extended time during cold weather, leave the temperature set above 55 degrees before you leave.
- In severe cold weather, let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. The cold water is still above freezing and will help prevent the pipe from freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
- Open the faucet so that water will flow through the pipe once the area is melted. Next, apply heat to or around the pipe. Keep all sources of heat away from flammable materials and do not use any open flame devices. Also, do not use devices that will cause the melted ice to boil, as that can also cause pipes to break.
- Call a licensed plumber if you cannot locate the frozen section, you are unable to reach it, or you are unable to thaw it.
- Pipes outside your home may freeze, especially if exposed to air. Since moving water does not freeze, it is suggested to leave a faucet dripping at the lowest level of the house to prevent the pipes from freezing. If outside pipes do freeze, you should apply heat to slowly thaw the pipes and allow the water to flow. Never attempt to thaw pipes using an open flame of any kind.
For emergency service inside your home contact a licensed plumber. Call the DC Water 24-hour emergency hotline at 202-612-3400 for water emergencies on public property.