Helpful Hints to Prevent Pipes from Freezing:
When temperatures plummet, the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting skyrockets. In fact, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage.
The pipes most at risk are those unheated interior such as basements, attics, and garages. But even pipes running through cabinets or exterior walls can freeze. Insulating pipes is one way to help from freezing. Here are some of the other steps experts recommend which may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, but the extra expense is nothing compared with a hefty repair bill.
Here's what you can do:
Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall. (If you have small children, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)
Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe -even at a trickle- helps prevent pipes from freezing.
Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature day and night. Again, during a cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on your heating bill.
How to thaw frozen pipes:
Always know where your main water shut off is, and make sure it is operational so you can quickly shut the water off if you need (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the home). If you suspect the pipes are frozen, be careful when thawing them out because if they have already burst water will come flowing out when they thaw. (Of course if you suspect a more serious problem, you can call a plumber.)
Turn on the faucet. As you heat the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through. Running water through the pipe, as cold as it is, will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of pipe using a hair dryer, or a heating pad wrapped around the pipe, or use towels soaked in hot water. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in you home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.