Houston plumbing experts answer how to handle the expected arctic cold front

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Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Plumbing experts answer how to handle the anticipated freeze
With the artic freeze heading to southeast Texas, take a look at what you need to how to handle the cold weather.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With the artic freeze heading to southeast Texas, take a look at what you need to know on how to handle the cold weather.

What should you do before the freeze?

The plunge in temperatures is expected to happen Thursday. Before the cold arrives, here's what you should do.

The Houston Department of Public Works said neighbors should wrap exposed pipes outside, or in unheated areas of the home. Also, remove garden hoses connected to faucets.

Make sure your sprinkler system is off. The city of Austin created a flyer with even more details.

You want to locate your main water valve shut-off, in case there's an issue during the freeze, you can quickly turn off the water. Check of cold air coming in through windows, and doors. If you find any, seal them.

Consumer Reports said pipe insulation can help, and it isn't too expensive. The agency said pipe insulation can cost as little as 50 cents per linear foot at the local hardware store.

When the cold weather arrives, what should you do to keep your pipes from freezing?

Houston Public Works said neighbors should keep cabinet doors under the sinks next to outside walls open. Also, shut off washing machines in unheated garages. Also, take extra steps to protect pipes that have frozen in the past.

The city advises against dripping water. Officials said it could create a major problem for the city's water system.

However, Consumer Reports said to let pipes drip that are attached to exposed to the elements. Even a trickle, the agency said could prevent the pipe from freezing.

You also want to keep your garage door closed and keep the thermostat to 65 degrees. As far as turning off your water all together, the city of Austin said you may want to consider shutting it off at the meter if you haven't had power in 24 hours.

If your pipe freezes or bursts, what do you do?

Consumer Reports said if you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you may have a frozen pipe. You want to be careful unthawing it because if the pipe has burst, the water will come flowing out when it's thawed.

If the pipe is broken, turn off the main shut-off valve. If it's not burst, take these steps.

Turn on the faucet and apply heat to the section of the pipe using an electric heating pad, hair dryer, or portable space heater, or you could wrap the pipe with towels soaked in hot water. Apply heat until the water pressure is fully restored.

If there are issues, contact a licensed plumber. If you need an insurance claim, do it quickly because chances are you're not the only one in the area that will be making a claim.