Winter weather and freezing temperatures are here in New Mexico. Frozen pipes can present an invisible threat – one that you might not recognize until the weather starts to warm. By then, the water damage can be significant and costly.
Fortunately, keeping your home warmer, at a consistent temperature, and better insulated can help protect your pipes from freezing this winter.
What Do You Do if You Have a Frozen Pipe?
If you suspect pipes in your home have been exposed to freezing temperatures, or water is not flowing through a faucet normally, follow these steps to help reduce the potential for water damage:
Locate and close the main water shutoff valve as soon as possible and before temperatures rise above freezing.
Inspect pipes for damage, including those in attics and crawl spaces, where it is safe to do so.
As temperatures increase above freezing, watch and listen for signs of water leaks.
If a pipe is leaking, do not turn on the water. Open all faucets including those outside to drain remaining water from pipes and call a licensed plumber for repairs.
If no leaks are detected, turn water back on slowly. Continue to check for leaks before turning water on completely.
Never use torches or heat guns to facilitate thawing as these can create fire hazards.
How to Help Prevent Frozen Pipes
Check your home for areas where water pipes are located in unheated or poorly insulated areas. Be sure to check your basement, attic, crawl space, garage and within cabinets containing plumbing. Hot and cold water pipes should both be insulated.
Products such as pipe sleeves or UL-listed heat tape or heat cable can help insulate or heat exposed water pipes.
Close inside valves supplying water to outdoor faucets and hookups.
Open outdoor faucets to allow residual water to drain; be sure to keep them open during the cold weather months, while the water supply is turned off.
Keep garage doors closed to help protect water pipes located in the garage.
Open the doors on cabinets where plumbing is located. This can help allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
For pipes that are at risk of freezing (both hot and cold water pipes), let water drip from faucets.
Keep the heat in your home set at a minimum of 55 degrees.