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How Can I Prevent My Pipes from Freezing?

We all know it gets cold in Wisconsin, but the brutal cold wave we experienced in late January, has been described as an event we haven’t seen in decades. Milwaukee actually set a record—minus 21 degrees—that had stood since 1899.

Of course, one of the biggest worries during a deep freeze like this is losing the heat in your home– and the ensuing danger of water pipes freezing.

When a pipe freezes, it’s at risk to burst, and a burst pipe can cause lots of trouble—and cost a lot of money to repair. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you avoid this stressful situation going forward.

  • If you plan to be away from home in winter, leave your thermostat set no lower than 60° F. (Keep it even higher than that if temperatures are forecasted to be super-low.)
  • Caulk or plug holes that allow cold air near water lines.
  • Open kitchen cabinet doors to allow heat into areas where water pipes may be located.
  • Check in and around your home for water lines in colder or unheated areas. Insulate both cold and hot water lines in areas such as your garage, crawl spaces, and your attic. Consider electric heat tape or a heated cable if the area stays cold and can’t be easily warmed up.
  • If the cold weather is severe or sustained, allow small trickle or warm and cold water through the faucet.

What to do if your pipes do freeze

  • Leave the water faucet slightly open.
  • Use a space heater or a hair dryer to thaw the frozen section of the pipe. Never use a device with an open flame!
  • Keep the area as warm as possible, or wrap pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape to keep pipes from freezing again.
  • If you see any water coming from the pipe, call a plumber immediately.

Your oilheat dealer is committed to your comfort—especially during times when winter weather is severe. Don’t hesitate to contact them so they can help to keep you stay safe and warm during our Wisconsin winters.