GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown Water Department would like to provide residents with tips to prevent frozen pipes this winter.
Outdoor pipes, including outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines, often freeze when exposed to severe cold. Indoor pipes also are prone to freeze, such as in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets, and in pipes that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation.
Freezing water expands, which can put pressure on a pipe, making it susceptible to bursting. A burst pipe can cause significant water damage to a home and be costly to repair.
Residents who encounter water flow issues should first contact the Water Department directly at 978-352-5750 to determine whether the problem is systemic.
“We ask residents to follow these useful tips to avoid the potential of any damage to their homes,” Utility Director Marlene Ladderbush said. “Most importantly, we ask residents whose houses will be vacant for a period to not shut the heat off. Lowering the thermostat will save money, but the damage caused by burst pipes will cost much more to repair.”
To avoid or thaw frozen pipes this winter, the Water Department shares the following tips provided by the American Red Cross:
Preventing Frozen Pipes
- Drain water from supply lines to swimming pools and water sprinklers.
- Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces.
- Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas, including the garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. All water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Consider installing products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve, UL-listed heat tape or heat cable.
- Keep garage doors closed.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.
- If the temperature drops, keep one or two faucets running slowly. Moving water helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Set thermostats to the same temperature day and night. If you will be away during cold weather, set your thermostat no lower than 55° F.
Thawing Frozen Pipes
- If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, assume a pipe is frozen. Locate the area that might be frozen. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
- Open faucets. As the frozen area begins to melt, water moving through the pipe will help melt ice.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe. Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, use an electric hair dryer, or wrap pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do NOT use an open flame — a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other devices. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger and a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.
- Call a licensed plumber if you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible or if you cannot thaw the pipe.
- Check all other faucets in your home for additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze too.
If a Pipe Bursts
- Locate your home’s main water valve and shut off the water supply.
- Call a plumber immediately.
- Remove water as quickly as possible to minimize damage.