There is a misconception that pipes burst because of freezing, but reality is that they burst because of an increase in water pressure. Continued freezing causes the pipe to expand and the pipe will burst where there is a pocket in the pipe that does not have any ice the pressure causes it to break.
Being proactive and taking a few preventative measures before it gets cold can save you thousands of dollars in the future if you have a busted pipe.
Things you should do before winter gets here.
If you have a swimming pools or lawn sprinkler systems you should drain the water from them and with the sprinkler system you should have them blown out so the water will not accumulate in the pipes throughout the winter.
Insulate- pipes in your home that may be exposed to colder air, these pipes are usually in the attic or a crawl space, a cheap alternative to buying insulation is to use newspapers. The more insulation the better to bring the temperature above freezing.
Seal- leaks with caulk in areas were pipes may be exposed to cold air
Disconnect- water hoses and shut off the valves and drain the water if you do not need to use the faucets. Keep the outside valves open so if water is trapped inside it will have room to expand.
If you use heat cables or heat tape make sure that you follow the manufacturer's guidelines when using them.
Going out of town.
If you are planning on travelling during the winter months, you should leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ÂºF. Ask a neighbor to check on your home periodically so if there is a water leak it does not go unnoticed until you get back. Also let a slow trickle of water drip through pipe this can prevent your pipes from freezing because the temperature of the pipes will be above the freezing.
What to do if the Pipes Freeze.
Most important rule if a pipe breaks is to make sure that you turn the water off at the main valve.
If the pipes are only frozen and there are no breaks keep the faucet open and try to warm the pipes. You should start at area closes to faucet and working slowly to the area of pipe that is the coldest
Apply heat to the pipe using an electric heating pad, blow dryer, space heater or heat lamp.
When in doubt call a licensed plumber.
What not to do
Never try to use open flame or a torch. A blow torch will make the water boil leading to the pipe exploding.
Putting these tips in place will insure that you do not have any pipe problems during the winter.