Prolonged winter power outages can be dangerous because, in addition to lights going out, your home heating system is also disabled. If bone-chilling weather continues, the temperature inside your home may drop. Some homeowners simply pack up and move to a hotel or a friend’s house that still has power. Unfortunately, when they return home after the power is restored, they find that their pipes have frozen and burst. We have some tips to help you prevent pipes from freezing.
Be Prepared for When a Power Outage Strikes
Preparation is the key to prevention. First, we suggest that you print out this info and tape it to the inside of your kitchen/bathroom cabinet so you can quickly access this when there is no power.
Next, identify and mark the water valves that bring water into your home. Do that today, before it gets cold before it’s an emergency.
Turn off /close off any outdoor/ hose lines by Nov 1. Outdoor drains can be more susceptible to bursting.
What to Do to Keep Water from Freezing in Pipes If You Just Lost Power
Here are tips to keep your pipes warm and safe when the power goes out:
Run all of your faucets at a fast drip. This helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Try to get a source of heat going: If you decide to use a kerosene space heater, be sure it is vented to the outside and kept clear of any vents. A fireplace can help, but beware, the flue draft can suck the heated air from the entire house. Before starting a fire, close off the room with the fireplace from the rest of the house. Build the fire near the back wall of the fireplace, and avoid making a large roaring fire. Large fires pull heated air up the flue.
Keep your garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Keep any harmful cleaners/household chemicals out of the reach of children.
Keep drapes and blinds open during the day to let the sun warm your rooms. This can make a big difference in warming up you and your home. Then, close them at night to help keep the heat inside.
If you still have heat, keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may get a higher heating bill, but you may prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst. Set the system to no lower than 55° F.
Extended Power Outage? Next Steps to Keep Pipes from Freezing
Keep water pipes from freezing by shutting off the valve that brings water into your home. Turn off the water main where it enters the house. Protect the valve, inlet pipe, and pump with blankets or insulation material.
Starting at the top of the house, open all faucets and flush toilets several times to drain the water from your plumbing system.
Go to the basement and open the drain valve.
The tank of your electric water heater will keep water warm for the first few days after an outage. However, it can freeze after prolonged cold and should be drained after three days of below-freezing temperatures. Drain your hot water tank by attaching a hose to the tank drain valve and run it to a basement floor drain or outdoors.
What to Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation. Here are some things you can do.
Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
Once power is restored, apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. NOTE: Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you cannot locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Be Prepared. Have Your Basic Winter Emergency Kit Ready to Go.
Your Basic Winter Emergency Kit should include:
• Water – at least two gallons of water per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation.
• Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods. Remember to replace the food and water each year.
• Manual can opener.
• A fully charged cell phone, and a fully charged and rechargeable cell phone charger
• Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight and extra batteries.
• Wind-up or battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
• First aid kit.
• Special items including prescription medications, infant formula and equipment for people with disabilities.
• Cash in small bills.
• A copy of your emergency plan and contact information.
• Candles and matches or lighter. Remember to put them out before going to sleep.
• A change of warm clothing and heavy socks and insulated boots for each household member.
• Sleeping bag or warm blankets for every household member.
• A whistle, in case you need to attract attention.
• Baby wipes, toilet paper and plastic trash bags for personal sanitation.
• Basic tools: hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, safety gloves.
• A small fuel-driven stove and fuel. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s directions and store properly.
If you live in the Rockland County NY, Orange County NY or Bergen County NJ area, call on CV Plumbing, Heating & Pool for all of your plumbing services, repairs, and replacement needs. We’re here for you for frozen pipes, damaged water lines, drain clogs, exterior and interior faucet fixes and installations, water heater installations and repair, sump pump installations, and more.