Charlottesville Fire Department Press Release
An average of a quarter-million families have their homes ruined and their lives disrupted each winter, all because of water pipes that freeze and burst.
Recovering from frozen pipes is not as simple as calling a plumber. By taking a few simple precautions, you can save yourself from a costly problem. The Charlottesville Fire Department would like to provide these tips to protect you and your home.
When the mercury drops
A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall. Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you go away
Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C). Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing. Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it will be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes freeze
Don't take chances. If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber. If you detect that your water pipes have frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. This is very dangerous and not recommended. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house. You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted.
If Your Pipes Burst
If the pipes in your home do burst, there are steps that must be taken to minimize damage to your home and personal belongings. Immediately shut the main water valve to your home. This will minimize the amount of water flowing into the residence. There will still be residual water in the pipes, but the flow will soon stop. It will also be important to shut all electrical service o the home off at the electrical panel. If the water leak is on an upper floor, this will be critical to prevent any electrical problems associated to the leak. Any standing water in the residencemust be removed as soon as possible. This can be done by using a water vacuum, or hiring a professional cleaning service. Homeowners should check out the baseboards around their home, especially in the area where the flooding occurred. These areas must be properly dried to prevent the accumulation of mold and mildew; it will also prevent rotting of the wood from starting. Take all furniture out that was in the area that was flooded. Save your furniture from any extended exposure to wetness from the flooding. Homeowners should pull out all carpets if possible to prevent mold and mildew.