Frigid temps causing frozen, bursting pipes? Here's what you need to do.

GASTON, SC (WIS) - With those temperatures d ropping, your pipes may be in danger of freezing.

George Rhame of Gaston knows that feeling all too well. Every time the weather d rops to record lows, his pipes freeze. He has a system, though… he always has bottled water ready, and he lets the pipes thaw out on their own. He offers advice for others who are also waking up to not even a trickle from their faucets. The biggest thing – don't do anything dangerous while trying to thaw your pipes.

"Things not to do is use propane torches.. anything that could lead to a fire," Rhame said. "I suggest basically just letting them thaw out on their own. The sun comes up, the permafrost melts off the ground, the ground temperature begins to rise. When all of that occurs, things generally begin to come back to life on their own."

The pros at Roto-Rooter plumbers offer more helpful tips for preventing frozen pipes:

  • Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected, water in the hoses will freeze and expand causing outside faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break. Cover outside faucets with Styrofoam faucet insulation kits found at home centers.
  • If outside faucets are dripping or leaking, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before freezing temperatures arrive.
  • If your washing machine is in an unheated garage, turn off water supply lines leading to the washer and disconnect the hoses if temperatures have dropped below freezing.
  • Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to run overnight in sinks and bathtubs with water supply pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets beneath sinks (located along outside walls) to allow heat in the room to circulate around uninsulated pipes.
  • Add insulation wraps to water pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around water supply pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing, but be sure not to attach these devices to flammable materials.
  • Keep the furnace is turned on and set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • And if your pipes have already frozen, like George Rhame’s, here are some other tips from Roto-Rooter about what to do next:
  • Shut-off the water main leading into the structure and open faucets indoors. This will reduce pressure on the frozen pipes and minimize flooding if the pipes burst.
  • If the frozen pipe is exposed and visible, use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the ice blockage. Do not use an open flame!
  • Examine exposed pipes for leaks. Even with the water main turned off, there will be enough pressure to reveal leaks once the pipe has thawed.
  • Contact a professional plumber equipped with pipe-thawing equipment to get your pipes flowing again, and if necessary, to make repairs to damaged pipes.
  • Even if no leaks are found, a plumber should examine pipes that experienced a hard freeze. Some pipes may need to be replaced if the material has experienced stretching and fatigue, putting the pipes at risk for future failure.
  • If you’ve experienced flooding or water damage, contact a certified water cleanup service provider to remove the water and deal with the damage left behind.

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