With dangerous arctic cold arriving Monday night, forecasters are concerned about the possibility of freezing and bursting water pipes.
The threat is greatest both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, according to the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, NJ.
“The threshold temperature for most pipes — those in attics and other areas not directly exposed to the cold — is about 20 degrees,” advises the Houston Chronicle‘s Eric Berger.
Pipes burst due to excessively high pressure. A comprehensive gizmodo.com article on the subject notes:
“Water pipes burst because the water inside them expands is it gets close to freezing, and this causes an increase in pressure inside the pipe. When the pressure gets too high for the pipe to contain, it ruptures.”
A simple solution is letting faucets run, according to a guide from The Weather Channel. While a dripping faucet is an effective way to relieve water pressure, an open faucet provides “relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes,” the guide advises.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers more comprehensive tips to mitigate the risk:
In the event of a frozen or burst pipe, the institute warns:
Don’t use propane or a welding torch to melt the ice on a pipe. Instead, use a hairdryer.
If a pipe has frozen, don’t keep the water flow on.
If a pipe has burst, don’t let it thaw before you repair the pipe.