New Mexico is bracing for colder temperatures during the next few days with the possibility that many areas of the state will experience temperatures in the below the 20 degree mark- during the night time hours. Many areas of the state face a hard freeze.
When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break.
Messy and expensive water losses from burst frozen pipes are more common in mountain towns but all residents have the potential to be caught off guard by a sudden drop in temperatures, if not prepared.
A one-eighth inch crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, furniture, appliances and personal items.
There are a number of preventative steps you can take to keep your pipes from freezing including sealing air leaks and insulating pipes in your home.
But many homeowners who do not typically experience freezing temperatures may not have taken these steps. Extreme weather conditions can harm your pipes.
Here are a few simple steps you can take in advance of the coming cold snap:
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature – more common overnight – could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- If you will be away from home- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C). Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing and Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
What do you do if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventative measures?
First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water: You could be electrocuted.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.