Freezing Temps and Frozen Pipes :(

Preventing frozen pipes

Risky locations Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when located:    • In an outside wall.    • Under a sink on an outside wall.    • In an unheated crawlspace.

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

  • Leave the water running at a slight trickle (the size of the lead in a pencil). The dripping water will keep the water in the pipe from freezing.  Be sure to have both hot and cold valves open.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom base cabinets and let room air circulate.
  • Open base cabinets and place a small portable heater near or in it to heat the pipes.
  • Wrap the problem pipe with electrical heat tape.
  • Insulate problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces.
  • Temper the currently unheated crawlspace by placing a heater in the crawlspace. You just need to elevate the crawlspace temperature to modestly above freezing, about 40°F.
  • Remove the hoses from your outdoor faucets, and then turn off the outside water supply at the shut off valve inside the house. 

Tips on thawing frozen pipes

If a pipe bursts before it is thawed, immediately shut off the water at the water main to prevent further damage!

  • Frozen but not ruptured? If you turn on the faucet and the water doesn’t come out or comes out in a trickle, your pipes are probably frozen. You need to act quickly to thaw the frozen pipe before it bursts.
  • Identify the frozen water supply pipe.
  • Open a faucet supplied by the frozen line, even if you have not found the frozen spot.
  • To find the blockage, follow the pipe back from the faucet to where it runs through cold areas such as an exterior wall, unheated crawl space or in some cases an unheated basement if the pipe is near an outside wall.
  • 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.

Frozen pipe behind a wall

Leave the main water valve near your water meter open when thawing the pipe.

  • If the frozen pipe is behind a wall or ceiling, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. You have three choices:
  • Turn up the heat in the house and wait.
  • Use an infrared lamp or lamps to heat the wall where you think the frozen area is located. Infrared lamps are better than regular heat lamps because the heat passes through the air without heating it, directing more energy to warming the wall and frozen pipe.
  • Tear out part of the wall or ceiling to get at the frozen section of pipe. Then thaw the pipe as an exposed pipe.

Exposed frozen pipe

Never use a flame torch because of the fire hazard it creates. Open flame torches are the most common cause of pipe thawing related home fires.

  • Heat the pipe from the faucet toward the frozen area. This way, the water can flow out as the ice melts and the water pressure in the pipe will force the ice out once it melts sufficiently.
  • If the frozen pipe is exposed, you have several options.
  • Hair Dryer One of the best and safest ways to thaw the pipe is to heat the area with a high power hair dryer. Again, make sure to open the faucet and then heat the pipe working back from the faucet toward the frozen blockage.
  • Heat Lamp or Space Heater Heat lamps and space heaters works well to heat an exposed pipe. You can use an infrared or incandescent heat lamp. Space heaters should be on a low setting.

If the pipe is close to the wall, put a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help radiate heat onto the back side of the pipe.

Burst Pipe Emergency

As soon as you discover a burst pipe:

Turn off the water supply

  • Turn off the main water shut-off valve. You should find this in the basement or where the service pipe enters your home.
  • Drain the system by turning on all your cold water valves.

Call us to repair the damage: ServiceMaster @ 610-374-1881 or 866-679-1919

  • We have staff on call 24/7/365.  We will professionally clean and dry your home.
  • Note: Electrical wiring damaged by water can be very dangerous. We can help with that as well as any repairs created from the water damage.
  • Note: You might need a reputable plumber to repair the burst or frozen pipe.  We can help with that also.

Do what you can to collect and manage the leak. If water has been leaking through for some time and the ceilings are bulging be careful. The room may not be safe to enter.

  • If you notice the leak quickly you can catch dripping water in buckets.
  • Make a hole in the ceiling to let water out.

Turn off electronics/appliances

  • If water leaks near your electronics or electrical appliances, switch off the breakers for each one of them immediately. If it is wet, don’t touch them!

Driving in Snow and Ice

The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it.

Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared (TIPS), and that you know how to handle road conditions.

It’s helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid…

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck…

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going