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Frozen Water Pipes

Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When the outside temperature dips below 32°F, water freezes. Frozen water expands by up to 10%, and can exert up to 2,000 lbs of pressure per square inch; enough to rupture most any pipe. When a pipe bursts, hundreds of gallons of water can be wasted, which means a higher water bill and potential damage to your home or landscape.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring:

  1. Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
  2. Insulate exposed pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially ones in unheated spaces.
  3. Remove any hoses attached to outdoor faucets, then turn off the water to the faucet as close to the house as possible.
  4. Let the faucet drip slightly; the dripping water will keep water in the pipe from freezing. However, this will increase your overall water use for the month.
  5. If you're going to be absent from your property for an extended period of time, shut off all water to the property and completely drain your pipes to prevent frozen water damage while you are away.

Frozen Pipes?

Prepare to Thaw!

In the situation where your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you need to thaw it out promptly. If you turn on the faucet and no water comes out, or comes out in a trickle, your pipes are frozen. As soon as you realize a pipe is frozen, immediate action is critical:

  1. Turn on the faucet supplied by the frozen pipe, even if you do not know where it is frozen.
  2. Identify the location of the blockage and the frozen water supply pipe.
    • Follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it is likely frozen. Often the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the situation is getting critical, the pipe may be slightly bulged or look slightly fissured.

Thawing a Frozen Pipe

When attempting to thaw a frozen pipe, it is important to leave the main water valve open at the point closest to your water meter, and work from the faucet toward the frozen area. This way, the water can flow out as the ice melts, and water pressure in the pipe will be alleviated.

  1. A safe way to thaw a pipe is to heat the area with a hair dryer, or even a heating pad.
    • NEVER use a torch, welding tool, or other high-temperature tool to thaw a pipe. Not only can your pipes be severely damaged by high heat, but excessive heat on a frozen pipe can cause a rapid expansion of the water resulting in a burst pipe and personal injury.
  2. Once the pipe is thawed and flowing normally, check for any cracks that might have developed.

If a pipe bursts before it is thawed, turn off the water at the main valve immediately!

If your valve is stuck, you cannot access your valve, or the burst pipe is between your shut off valve and your water meter, CALL DEL ORO IMMEDIATELY and request a courtesy shut off. Our field staff will respond as quickly as possible.

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