The water inside pipes can freeze within hours if exposed to cold air, especially when temperatures are below freezing and remain below freezing for an extended time. As freezing water expands, it causes the pressure inside the pipes to increase, possibly leading to bursting pipes. Both plastic and copper pipes can burst when they freeze.
Best Advice: Don’t Allow Pipes to Freeze
When uninsulated water-supply pipes are exposed to frigid air, the water inside the pipes can freeze, expand, and cause damage to the pipe. Here are some precautions to follow:
Water Supply Shut Off Valve: Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately. Be sure that all of your family members know where the shut off valve is located and how to turn the water off in case of an emergency.
Garden Hose: Disconnect garden hoses from exterior faucets and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
Exterior Faucets: Install an exterior, insulated jacket on the faucet. This will protect your outdoor faucets, as well as the connecting lines running into the home, from freezing temperatures.
Drip Faucets: Allow hot or cold water to trickle from your faucets, slightly smaller than a pencil’s width. This not only keeps water moving through the pipes, but relieves built-up water pressure in the pipes if they should freeze.
Icemaker: Set your icemaker to make ice if the supply line to the icemaker runs underneath the house.
Cabinet Doors: Open cabinet doors under sinks and faucets to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Thermostat: Keep your house temperature above 55° to prevent pipes from freezing.
Crawl Space: Close or cover foundation vents under house and windows to basements
Garage Doors: Close garage doors, especially if your water heater is in the garage.
Insulate Pipes: Insulate hot and cold water pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
Heat Tape: Consider wrapping pipes with UL approved heat tape that has a built-in thermostat to prevent overheating. Follow the instructions that come with heat tape carefully to keep from causing a fire hazard.
Foundation: Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Common areas to look are around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or expanding-foam insulation to seal all cracks, holes, and cable openings in exterior walls, especially those positioned close to water-supply pipes. With severe cold, even a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
Meter Box: Keep the water meter box lid closed to prevent the meter from freezing.
State Law requires anyone about to engage in digging, excavation, moving of earth, or any other type of activity that disturbs the earth to notify Tennessee One Call of their intent to dig as it may involve a danger to damaging the underground facilities. If you have paint markings, flags, or stakes in or near your yard, a Tennessee One Call was likely called in for your area. Refer to the color chart below for information regarding what utilities were marked. For more information, please refer to the Tennessee One call webpage http://www.tenn811.com/.
Temporary Survey Markings
Electrical Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables
Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials
Communication, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit