Management 101 - Frozen Pipes
If you suspect freezing temperatures may hit your area we recommend taking some preventive measures on your rental properties. First remind your renters to leave cabinet doors open to expose pipes to higher temperatures. Make sure they close windows to the outside and to keep the temperature in the rental above 62 degrees. If the unit is vacant follow the same steps to prevent surprise next time you show the property to a prospective renter.
If your renter informers you of a frozen pipe or water loss you should first examine the water meter. Check for leaks. Is the frost plate (bottom portion of the meter) cracked? If so, the meter is probably frozen. Never try to thaw the water meter. You should contact the water department for more help. The actual water meter freezing is rare most likely it’s a frozen pipe. Check the basement or crawl space and any pipes that run along an exterior wall. The pipe will often have ice on the exterior. If you are not sure which part of the pipe is frozen use your hand and look for the coldest section of the pipe. Once the pipe has been located you should try to thaw the pipe. Use caution the pipe may have already been damaged but it is not leaking because the water is frozen. Do not use any type of open flame. The use of a hair dryer, light bulb or electric heat tape is recommended. You should start warming the pipe from the edge closest to the faucet that is not working and work your way backwards. Keep the heat source moving and not concentrated in one spot to prevent damage. Since the possibility of water leaking or the pipe breaking is a real possibility we recommended that you use only heavy-duty extension cords with grounded plugs. If appliances get wet you should shut off power to the property before removing them to prevent possible electrocution. If you’re not successful in thawing the pipe or are unsure which pipe is frozen it may be time to call in a professional.