Frigid temperatures can lead to frozen water pipes and costly plumbing repairs. Depending on the diameter of the pipe it can take only a matter of hours to freeze. This can then cause the pipes to burst. Take the following precautions to protect your pipes:
- Insulate water lines in unheated areas of your home (ie: garage, attic, basement, crawl space, etc)
- If pipes are vulnerable to freezing (such as those located on an exterior wall), let the faucet drip to keep the water moving through the pipes. The cost of the extra water is low compared with the cost to repair a broken pipe
- Keep cabinets or vanities open to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures
- Detach outdoor hoses from faucets (this allows connecting pipes to drain)
- Know where the master shutoff valve is located (typically where the water line comes into the home from the street)
During an extended and extreme cold period, pipes may freeze despite taking the precautions listed above. Using a low setting on a hairdryer is the safest way to thaw a frozen pipe. Wave the warm air back and forth along the pipe rather than concentrating on a single area. If a hairdryer is not available, wrapping the pipe with towels and pouring hot water over them is another option. Never use a torch with an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. This could cause a fire or overheat a section of the pipe and cause it to leak or burst.
If your pipes burst due to freezing temperatures (or you have an unknown water leak inside your house), follow the steps below:
- Shut off the water line into your house at the master shutoff valve. This is typically located before your water meter (where the water line comes into the home from the street). This will stop the water from flowing out of the leak.
- If the water is still flowing from the leak after turning the shutoff valve, call the Water Division at 614-342-4440. The City will send out a utility crew to shut off your water from the curb box/street tap.
- Call a plumber to inspect the leak and perform repairs. A list of plumbers can be found in your local phone book. The City’s utility crew is not licensed plumbers and cannot perform private water line repairs.