How to stop pipes from freezing, tips on staying warm during the cold

Temperatures so brutally cold in Ohio can cause water pipes to freeze, especially pipes that lead to outside cones or pipes in unheated rooms.

Pay special attention to pipes on the outside walls. Open the base cabinet doors to let in warm air and turn on the taps just enough to allow hot and cold water to come out overnight. And just for those cold nights, it’s a good idea not to turn the thermostat down at night like you normally do. The extra money you pay for water and heat is far less than the cost of a plumbing repair.

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Disconnect the hoses from the outer plugs so that the freezing water in the hoses does not damage the piping as it expands. Turn on the spigots, go inside and turn off the water supply. You can do this by rotating the valve on the supply line that leads to each spigot.

What if a pipe bursts?

If a pipe bursts, immediately turn off the water by using the single pipe stop valve or the house main stop valve. It’s located where the water supply goes into the house, usually near the water meter.

The meter is usually located along the basement wall closest to the street.

If you don’t have a basement, the cordon is likely near the water heater, but it could also be under a sink.

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If you are lucky enough to spot a frozen pipe before the pipe breaks, turn off the water first just in case the pipe is already split and you don’t know. Then try to thaw the frozen area by blowing warm air from a hair dryer parallel to the area you suspect is frozen or by directing an infrared heat lamp or space heater on the area.

As a last resort, wrap rags around the pipe and pour it over boiling water. However, be prepared for a mess and slow results.

How to stay safe during a cold snap

Here’s how to stay safe during this cold snap:

  • Install smoke alarms throughout your home. Test the batteries once a month and replace them every year.
  • Talk to children about fire safety and have a plan of action. Remember to get out, stay calm, and call for help.
  • Keep anything that can burn, such as bedding, clothing, or curtains, at least 3 feet away from a heat source.
  • DO NOT plug the heaters into extension cords or power strips.
  • Place the heaters on a hard, flat, non-flammable surface. Never on carpets.
  • Use heaters with automatic shutdowns so that they turn off if they tip over.
  • DO NOT go to bed or leave the room without turning off a heater or putting out a central fire. Unplug the plug from the socket when not in use.
  • Only use heaters from a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Don’t use a stove to heat your home.
  • Use a glass or metal fire screen to catch sparks and logs in a fireplace.
  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Have the equipment checked annually by a specialist.

Source: American Red Cross, US Fire Protection Agency, National Fire Protection Association

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