With temperatures dipping below freezing lately in the Lowcountry, we thought it would be a good time to address winter-weather home maintenance. Since we don’t have to deal with a whole lot of freezing weather here, some homeowners might be unaware that water pipes can potentially freeze and burst, causing big problems. Here are some steps you can take to prevent pipes from bursting in freezing weather.

Keep the heat on. Even if you’re not planning to be home, it’s important to keep your house warmer than outside temps to keep things in working order. Make sure the heat is set above 55° Fahrenheit. That way you’ll still save power on your electric bill while you’re traveling, but the house will stay warm enough to keep things safe.

Turn on faucets. This will keep water moving through the pipes to prevent freezing. There doesn’t have to be a steady stream of water. Try to aim for about five drops per minute.

Open any cabinets that cover plumbing. This helps the warm air from your house circulate around the pipes. While it won’t help with pipes in the walls and ceilings or under your home, it will limit the effects by keeping water moving.

Wrap pipes in warm towels if they are already on the way to freezing. You can cover them with towels and then pour boiling water on top, or use towels that have already been soaked in hot water. This will hopefully loosen the ice inside and get the water moving again.

If pipes have already begun to freeze:

If your pipes have already begun to freeze and the hot towels aren’t helping, try blowing hot air on the pipes with a hair dryer. DO NOT use anything with direct flames like a blow torch.

Are these tips too little, too late? If your pipes have already frozen, turn off the water ASAP and get in touch with a licensed plumber. Close off any external water sources to keep more water from filling the system. If water continues to flow, more ice will pile up, which will eventually lead to burst pipes. This will also help when the water begins to thaw. You don’t want to end up with water flooding your system once your frozen pipes are fixed.

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