Many homes sustain damage from broken water pipes during the winter time. Here are helpful tips to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting:
All faucets should be at a drip. Many folks believe that keeping your faucets dripping in the winter will keep the water from freezing altogether because the water is moving. Moving water on a river can freeze if the temperature is cold enough, so your pipes can burst even if the faucet is dripping. The open valve just relieves the pressure in the pipe which may help keep it from bursting.
Leave the thermostate above 60 degrees and do not close off rooms that have water or water heaters in them. Setting the temperature on the heater too low is asking for trouble especially when the thermostat regulates the household temperatures in the living room area. Other rooms and closets may get much colder and those with water pipes should have the door open to let heat inside.
Open cabinet doors to your sink so the room heat can help keep them from freezing. If your bath or shower pipes are through a closet then keep that door open at night or when you are away on vacation or away from home for extended periods.
Insulate your water pipes with insulation or heat tape. Newer homes have water pipes insulated within interior walls and floors. If you have any pipes exposed they need to be insulated or covered with electrical heating tape to keep them from freezing. Cover the entire pipe with fiberglass insulation for extra protection. They are inexpensive precautions for freezing conditions.
Turn off your water when you are away from home for more than a day or even overnight in subzero weather. Shut the water off at the main valve and let your pipes drain by opening them up. The water left in your pipes will then be too small of an amount to expand and burst.
If your pipes freeze, but have not burst then try thawing them out with a hair dryer. First, open your water tap and blow hot air along the length of the pipe until the water begins to flow through the faucet again. You don't have to climb under your house to do that. Do not use lighters or other open flames of heat to a frozen pipe. Call a plumber if the hair dryer doesn't work.