Freezing Weather Maintenance: The Do’s and Don’ts of Frozen Pipes

frozen-pipes_IBHSWhat happened to summer weather? Temperatures have begun to dip in many areas of the country, prompting the National Weather Service to issue freeze warnings for parts of Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas, while freeze watches have been issued for parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

As fall’s weather begins to get cooler, your property’s pipes become at risk of freezing and causing significant water damage. In fact, a burst pipe can cost more than $5,000 in damage, according to research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Find out the do’s and don’ts of frozen pipes below, while additional guidance from IBHS is available at 
http://www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-frozen-pipes/.

PREVENT FROZEN PIPES

DO’S:

  • Provide a reliable back-up power source, such as a stand by generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.

  • Recessed light fixtures in the ceiling below the open area that is directly under a roof, such as attic space, should be insulated to prevent the release of heat into the attic.

  • Insulate all attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, and access doors that are not properly sealed.

  • Ensure proper seals on all doors and windows. Depending on the building or room size, fan tests can be conducted to ensure room and pressurization tests.

  • Seal all wall cracks and penetrations including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit, other utility service line, etc.

  • Insulation and/or heat trace tape with a reliable power source may be installed on various wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.

  • A monitored automatic excess flow switch can be placed on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the space is unoccupied.

DON’TS

  • Don’t use propane or a welding torch to melt the ice on a pipe. Instead, use a hairdryer.

  • If a pipe has frozen, don’t keep the water flow on.

  • If a pipe has burst, don’t let it thaw before you repair the pipe.