Arctic blast: The dangers of frozen pipes and space heaters

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An arctic blast is bringing single digit temperatures this week along with below-zero wind chills. Staying warm inside your home is a priority for both people and your plumbing. The Home Depot's Joe Autry explains the best way to keep pipes from freezing in the bitter cold. And he shows what to look for in a space heater to keep your family warm without jeopardizing their safety.


- Disconnect garden hoses before cold weather comes. A connected hose could cause the short length of pipe that goes into the house to freeze.

- Insulate pipes in the attic and crawl spaces.

- When freezing weather hits, allow a slow drip from hot and cold faucets. This will relieve pressure on the system and allow water to circulate.

- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes.

- Set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees.

- Consider a leak alarm or automatic water shutoff system.


If a pipe does freeze and burst, make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shutoff valve is located. The Louisville Water Company is encouraging the public to #TagIt. They are offering free plastic hangers to mark the shutoff valve in case of emergency. To get instructions on how to find your water shutoff and to watch a video with instructions, CLICK HERE.

- Using a candle or open flame to thaw a frozen pipe is dangerous and should never be done.

- Heat wrap should run along the length of a pipe. It takes less to cover the pipe than wrapping it around.

- Heat lamps can be a good, safe option and they cost as little as $7.

- Thermal heat guns are tailor made for thawing pipes, but they are an extra expense.

- You can also use a blow dryer to help heat up a frozen pipe.

- Seek professional help, if you can't get your pipe thawed. Frozen pipes can burst and cause thousands of dollars in damage.


Staying warm -- for millions of Americans, that includes using extra space heaters in the dead of winter. An estimated 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in 300 deaths and roughly 6,000 injuries. Space heaters can be an inexpensive way to stay warm, but there are some precautions for everyone to keep in mind.

Space heater safety advice:

-When buying a heater, look for one that has been tested and labeled by a nationally recognized testing company, such as Underwriter's Laboratories Inc. (UL).

-Keep the heater three feet away from drapes, furniture or other flammable materials.

-Place the heater on a level surface away from areas where someone might bump into it and knock it over.

-Avoid using extension cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is a heavy duty cord marked with a power rating at least as high as

that on the label of the heater itself.

-Never leave a space heater unattended or running while you sleep.

-Supervise children and pets when a space heater is in use.

-Keep electric heaters away from water. Never use them near a sink or in the bathroom.

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