House & Home

The cold reality: Frozen pipes can be a homeowner’s nightmare. Here are some tips

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Dec. 27, 2017.

Water freezes at 32 degrees, and Kansas City temperatures are well below that this week. That could result in trouble on the home front.

Pipes that freeze in houses can rupture, causing nightmares of cost, damage and inconvenience for homeowners.

But there are steps homeowners can take to protect their property.

The most important thing, according to many sources, is for everyone in the house to know where the main water shut-off valve is and how to use it. It’s usually in the basement. In homes without basements it might be under a sink. Label it.

If you have frozen pipes, do not leave the house without shutting off the main valve or you may come home to a flood.

Acting quickly to shut off the water is the best way to limit damage. A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew 250 gallons of water in a day, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

Make sure pipes that run along exterior walls are well-insulated.

Leave under-the-sink cabinet doors open.

Let all faucets in the house drip.

If you have a pipe freeze, use a space heater or hair dryer. Do not use a propane torch or other flame.

The American Red Cross also provides tips for preventing and thawing frozen pipes.