There are some simple things you can do to prevent costly house calls by your plumber.
- Locate the shut-off valve for your home. If a water pipe should burst, you can turn the valve off and stop the flow of water before any flooding occurs. This shut-off valve is usually found near where the water line comes into your house or basement.
- Wrap or insulate your water pipes. Pipe wrapping and electrical heating tape are available at hardware stores and home improvement stores. You should wrap pipes near outside walls, under the house, and in the attic. If you decide to use the heating tape, follow the directions carefully and be sure to leave the thermostat exposed so it can "feel" the temperature.
- Check and repair your home's caulking. Crawl space vents should be caulked and closed from Fall to Spring. You should also check caulking around all openings in walls where you have outside faucets, electrical outlets, air conditioning ducts, and, of course, doors and windows. If there is caulking where the walls are connected to the foundation, be sure you check it, too.
- Don't leave your house, apartment, or condominium during winter without some heat. Even if you're going to be gone a couple of days, be sure the thermostat is no lower than 60 degrees. Sometimes it's also wise to put antifreeze in commodes, if you can't drain them. (Use caution with anti-freeze, because it is dangerous to pets.)
- Check your water meter box lid. If the meter box lid isn't properly seated, cold air can reach the meter and the pipes.
- Consider using available heat sources for some pipes. Sometimes simply leaving a door open, such a a door under a sink or a door to a garage, will allow heat to reach vulnerable pipes. Heat lamps can also be used to help prevent freezing of pipes. Sometimes, a heat source such as a simple light bulb near the pipe is sufficient.
- Never use open flames around a frozen pipe. An open flame is always a fire hazard, and a flame could cause the water in the pipe to turn into steam and build up enough pressure to split the pipe. Sometimes ice in a pipe will melt if you warm it with a hair dryer or wrap it in hot towels.
- A word on allowing faucets to drip during sub-zero weather. Although it can prevent freezing in some cases, running water to keep pipes from freezing is wasteful. The best prevention is to insulate vulnerable pipes.
- Be a Water Watcher. Call (503) 635-0280 during business hours or (503) 635-0238 after hours, if you see water flowing from what appears to be a broken line in the street or in a yard.
For frozen or damaged pipes in your home, you must call your own plumber. Locate the shut-off valve for your home.
If a water pipe should burst, you can turn the valve off and stop the flow of water before any flooding occurs. This shut-off valve is usually found near where the water line comes into your house or basement.
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