Oregonians Must Guard Against Frozen Pipes

December 18, 2006

Freezing temperatures in the Puget Sound has residents bracing against the possibility of damage caused by frozen pipes. According to Pemco Insurance, however, homeowners can take precautionary steps to prevent pipe damage.

Among the Seattle-based insurer’s recommendations:
– Keep the heat on: If a home has heat, keeping the temperature between 58 and 60 degrees should keep pipes from freezing in all but the most severe of conditions.

– Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms: Water lines supplying the kitchen or bathrooms are frequently located in outside walls. Any air leaks in siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving the cupboard doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows pipes behind the cupboards to get more heat.

– Let the water run if the temperature dips below freezing: Letting a small stream of water run can help keep pipes safe. A slight stream smaller than a pencil width should be sufficient to prevent freezing. Pick a faucet farthest from the street, and use cold water to save on utility costs.

– Pay attention to outside water systems: If you know where the valve is that supplies outside faucets, shut it off and drain the system. If you can’t drain the system, wrap the outside faucets with insulation. Disconnect garden hoses and drain in-ground irrigation systems according to manufacturer’s instructions.

For homeowners who can’t take those steps, then the insurer recommends:

– Never thaw frozen pipes with an open flame. You could start a fire

– To safely thaw pipes, wrap the pipes in a rag and pour hot water over
them until the water is again running.

– Use heat lamps, hair dryers, and electric heaters with extreme caution. They can cause fires, of create electrocution risk, especially if there is a water leak.

– If a pipe breaks, immediately close the main shutoff valve to prevent flooding and call a qualified plumber for repairs.

Source: Pemco

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