Thaw With Care

Know Your Air and Water No 1

Sooner or later, you may have to deal with a frozen pipe; be careful when you do because first thoughts about how to thaw it out may not be the best ones. Be patient and safe.

Most often, pipes that freeze up are outside and exposed directly to winter cold or are inside exterior walls that don’t have enough insulation. But they likely also are near materials that can catch fire. So don’t use a blow torch or any other such open flame device; the risk simply is too great for igniting some combustible such as insulation, wood joists or flooring.

Rather, first open a faucet at the end of the pipe. Then, being more conservative and safe, work back from the faucet toward the frozen area with a warming device such as a heat lamp, hair dryer or heat gun to open up the frozen pipe. Be sure the warming device is grounded; never hold the pipe in your hand while operating an electrical device.

As always, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure. So check out your piping now for those most susceptible to freezing – such as those in unheated areas and in or near outer walls. Many insulating products are readily available for such piping.

Disconnect all outside hoses and drain outside faucets for winter. Open cabinet doors under sinks on exterior walls to keep the sink pipes warm. When it is very cold outside, let hot and cold water faucets near outside walls drip slowly overnight. Never leave open faucets unattended.

PAMCANI (The Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors Authority of Northern Illinois) is comprised of over 400 union contractors and sustaining members who provide and maintain plumbing, heating and cooling systems for institutional, commercial, business and residential applications. This non-profit trade organization invests over $3 million annually in the promotion, advancement, education and training of apprentices, journeymen and contractors, and actively works to raise awareness about water and energy conservation. Headquartered in Downers Grove, PAMCANI covers DuPage, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall, Lake and McHenry Counties.

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