Frozen House Water Pipes Winter
Credit: Getty Images/imageBROKER RF

As severe winter weather continues to sweep across the East Coast, it's important to be careful to stay safe. And part of that is making sure you'll still have running water if you're snowed in for days.

When the temperatures drop below freezing for an extended period of time, water pipes — particularly those that run along external walls, or are in unheated spaces — can freeze.

How to Keep Pipes From Freezing

There are a few things you can do to prevent pipes from freezing: Leaving faucets dripping slightly can keep water from freezing, as can insulating them with foam wraps or electrical heat tape. The heat should also be kept running, if possible, even if you'll be away from home.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

When, despite your best efforts, pipes freeze anyway, it’s imperative that you act fast — before they crack. Start by cranking up the heat, turning off the water (either to the suspect pipe or the entire home), and opening the taps.

If the frozen pipe is behind a wall, things get tricky. According to The Spruce, you can use an infrared lamp to heat the wall, or remove a section of the wall altogether to expose the pipe.

If the frozen pipe is exposed, you can use a heat lamp or hair dryer to slowly and safely melt the blockage. Hot towels can also be wrapped around frozen pipes to thaw ice.

Always call an expert if you’re unable to successfully unfreeze your pipes — or if you suspect a pipe has cracked or burst.