Meteorologist Stephen Morgan on handling frozen pipes
Great winter weather hit much of the United States this week. In many areas there is less snow and unusually low temperatures.
Great winter weather hit much of the United States this week. In many areas there is less snow and unusually low temperatures. Wintry weather has turned off electricity for millions of people and left many in the dark about what to do – and what not – to avoid bursting frozen pipes.
When water freezes, it expands, which can cause pipes to burst. According to the Corporate and Home Security Insurance Institute, this is a major cause of property damage.
Here’s what the experts say about how to prevent frozen and burst pipes.
Low water pressure during freezing
If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you’re suspecting a frozen pipe, says the American Red Cross. However, it is possible that only part of your pipe is frozen, which is why less water is getting through.
Pipes that are likely to freeze are on outside walls or in the basement.
If the pipes are frozen, should I leave the faucet on?
Experts say that freezing or dribbling the faucet in cold weather can prevent it from freezing. And if the tube freezes, this can help relieve some of the pressure.
But in Houston, where residents were hit hard by a nationwide power outage and freezing temperatures this week, the public works department issued a notice that the taps should not be running.
“The Houston water system differs from other systems in that we don’t use water towers to apply pressure to the system. We use bottom storage tanks and pumps. The drip from the system can stress pumps and cause system-wide pressure problems, and possibly lead to an indication to boiling water, “was the explanation.
How to thaw pipes
To thaw a frozen pipe, you should add some heat to the section of pipe that you know is frozen. The American Red Cross recommends the following methods:
- Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe
- Use a hair dryer
- Set up a portable space heater
- Wrap the tube in towels soaked in hot water
Can you flush a toilet if the pipes are frozen?
The answer to this question is more difficult because it depends.
You can flush a toilet if the pipes are frozen, but then you may be out of luck. It depends on which pipes are frozen in your house.
If your toilet pipe is frozen, your tank won’t refill and you will only get one flush. However, you could keep flushing your toilet if there was some way to top up the tank’s water.
Unless your toilet pipe is frozen, your tank should continue to fill as normal and you can flush as usual.
Toilet pipes are more likely to freeze if they are on outside walls.
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