Both plastic and copper plumbing can freeze, but copper is more likely to burst. This will happen when the pipe completely freezes. Water exerts 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure when it expands as ice causing the pipe to burst. Pipes are most likely to freeze in cabinets under sinks on outside walls, in unheated crawl spaces or basements, or where they are plumbed in outside walls.
Before the freeze:
Ensure you know where your water shut-off valve is. You may have never needed to turn the water off in your home, and may not know where the valve is.
Shut off those outside hose bibs. Modern ones have long shafts and take care of themselves, but older homes may have an interior shutoff valve.
Open all cupboard doors underneath bathroom vanities and kitchen sinks. Make sure any cleaning materials items are removed if there are children in the home.
Turn the faucet and let it drip a little. If the water is moving, it won't freeze. Run cold water (very slowly) from the lowest point in the house.
In case of a freeze:
You may notice that the water is really slow from a tap, or just stops flowing. If it is just one faucet then the problem is probably local.
If a pipe burst:
Turn off the water at the shut-off valve. You will need to open up some taps to release any pressure. Contact a plumber and Buffalo Restoration.
Never place pipes in an outside wall, and avoid putting bathroom vanities on outside walls.
If a pipe is susceptible to freezing, you should place electric heat tape and insulation on it.
Instead of copper plumbing, use modern plastic plumbing as it is less likely to burst.
June 15, 2022
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