Below are some tips that will help people keep their pipes from freezing tonight. Normally we wait until there’s a forecast of a couple-day-long cold snap before we send this out, but with the roller-coaster ride of temperatures we have been experiencing, tonight’s dip might catch a lot of people off-guard.
Whenever we put this advice out, we receive calls with concerns about the cost of having an intentionally dripping faucet. Some information found online states that leaving a faucet dripping for one night will cost people a lot of money.
This information is not true. Here is the important fact to remember re: the cost. A moderate drip (one per three seconds) from one faucet amounts to a gallon a day of additional usage. The cost for that additional usage? Just a bit more than .3 (three-tenths) of a cent per gallon, based on our water consumption rate of $3.67 per 1,000 gallons.
Here are a few preventive measures that can help tonight:
- Tightly close doors and windows to the outside.
- Insulate pipes in unheated or drafty areas. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to keep pipes from freezing.
- Shut off and drain the pipes leading to your outside faucets so no water is left to freeze, expand and cause a leak in these lines.
- Close the inside valves and drain the pipes leading to your outside hose bib (faucet).
- Know where your main shut off valve is and label it. Minimize the potential for water damage by ensuring that everyone in the household knows how to shut off the water in case of an emergency.
- Open the cabinets beneath any place with a water supply, such as the kitchen and bathroom sinks. This will allow warm air to circulate. (Remove any toxic substances first if there are small children or pets in the home.)
- To prevent your pipes from freezing, allow a faucet to drip cold water slowly. The faucet you choose should be the one that is the greatest distance from your main water shut off valve. It does NOT need to be a running trickle. A moderate drip of one drop per three seconds will do the trick.
If someone turns on a faucet and only have a trickle of water coming out or no water at all and it has been very cold for a period of time, suspect a frozen pipe or meter and take these steps:
- Identify whether the problem is throughout the house or in one area. If it’s only in one area of your household, you may be able to thaw the pipe by opening the cabinets and allowing the warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
- NEVER thaw a pipe with an open flame. You can use a hair dryer on low or a portable heater. Avoid using electrical appliances if there is standing water.
- Use warm water to soak towels then wrap the towels around the frozen pipes.
- If the problem persists, contact a licensed plumber for additional guidance.