There are a few things a homeowner can do in extremely cold weather to help prevent water pipe freeze breaks and minimize damage if a pipe does freeze.
1) Locate the shut off valve to the house.
a. It is important to know the location of the shut off in case a pipe freezes and bursts or if a frozen pipe split, it will leak when it thaws out.
b. The customer should have their own shut off valve. If not, there is always a shut off valve that belongs to the service provider, but some require a water key (long handled tool used to shut off underground valves) and some service providers do not want anyone other than their employees to operate their valves.
c. If the house is on a meter, the water can be shut off at the meter.
d. Shutting off the service providers valve is at the customers own risk. If the valve is damaged, the customer is responsible for the cost of the repair.
2) Make sure the foundation vents are closed.
a. The foundation vents are located around the perimeter of the foundation. If left open, the plumbing in the crawl space will be subjected to freezing conditions.
b. Close the vents (should be able to operate them from outside the foundation)
Here are two types of foundation vents. There are many different styles, but all of them installed in this area should be closable.
3) Make sure the hoses are off the hose bibs.
a. Frost free hose bibs will still freeze and split if the hose is left on and it traps water in the bib.
b. Hoses should be removed from the hose bibs before the first freeze. If you forget, be sure and check the bib in the spring to be sure it has not forze and split and leaking in the wall or crawl space. Please call Jet Plumbing if you have any questions.
1) If there is no water to the house.
a. The main water service is most likely frozen.
b. Leave the water on as the pressure behind it will help when it thaws out. If the line has split, it will leak when it thaws out, so be careful about leaving the home with the water on and the pipes still frozen.
c. It is difficult to solve without pipe thawing equipment.
d. If the water service is plastic, pipe thawing equipment will not work, so it might not thaw until it warms up.
2) If there is no water to an isolated section in the house.
a. Turn the faucet on and leave it on. The pressure behind the freeze will speed up the process as it thaws. DO NOT LEAVE THE HOME WITH THE FAUCET OPEN. If the drain line plugs for some reason, or drains slowly, it can flood the house.
b. The line most likely froze in the crawl space, so it needs to get some heat to it.
c. Make sure the foundation vents are closed.
d. If there is an inside crawl space access, take the cover off to allow heat from the house to get into the crawl space.
e. Kitchen sinks are typically on outside walls so are exposed to the cold. If it is a kitchen sink line that is frozen, in addition to the above, open the kitchen sink cabinet doors to get extra heat under the sink.
f. Other methods can be used to introduce heat into the crawl space, but heating the crawl space is best left to a professional.
3) Mobile Homes.
a. Most mobile homes are plumbed with non-metallic pipe of some sort, so pipe thawing equipment will not work.
b. Make sure the skirting is secure and tight. Missing skirting pieces will allow freezing air under the mobile home.
c. If pipes are frozen, it will need to get warm air under the mobile home to thaw the pipes. This is best left to a professional.
4) Sprinklers Systems.
a. These too should have been winterized before the first freeze, but if not, be sure the valve to the sprinkler system is closed.
b. If the vacuum breaker freezes and splits and is gushing water, shut off the isolation valve for the sprinkler system. If the leak stops, the vacuum breaker can be replaced at a later date.
a. Make sure the filters are clean.
b. If you have an oil furnace, make sure you have oil in the tank prior to calling for service.