Power outages can put you at risk for frozen pipes in the winter due to extreme temperatures. It can also lead to costly repairs to address any water damage, causing as much as 250 gallons of water to leak a day for every 1/8-inch crack. The following tips can help ensure your pipes are maintained as temperatures drop.

Assess your property:

Pipes most at risk are water supply lines in unheated areas such as basements, garages, crawl spaces, attics and kitchen cabinets.

Preventative measures to take at home:

  • Keep the garage closed, especially if there are water supply lines inside.
  • Open kitchen and cabinet doors. This will allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sink is on an exterior wall.
  • Let cold water drip from a faucet being served by exposed pipes. Even a trickle will help prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Seal gaps by using caulk or spray foam insulation around holes where pipes run through walls or floors.
  • Apply heating tape to pipes. This is a good solution for short sections of pipe at high risk for freezing.
  • Add extra insulation before the next cold snap hits. Insulation can keep a pipe closer to the temperature of the water inside the pipe.

How to thaw frozen pipes at home:

  • Turn the faucet on full pressure. If only a trickle comes out, a pipe is probably frozen. Check exterior walls or where water enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep faucets open. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Wrap an electric heating pad around a section of the pipe. You also can soak towels in hot water and wrap them around pipes.
  • Apply heat by using a portable space heater or electric hair dryer.
  • Check all faucets in your home to see if there are additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others might too.
  • If a frozen pipe is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, contact a licensed plumber.

Steps to consider at your business:

  • Monitor fire protection sprinkler systems by using a central station that will provide early detection of a pipe failure.
  • Relieve pipe pressure by running all faucets to at least a drip.
  • Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation.

For more tips, visit ConsumersEnergy.com/coldweather.