Brrrrrr: Watch For Freezing Pipes, Icy Roads

Temperatures could drop into the single digits tonight – here are some tips.

Baby, it’s cold outside, and it’s going to get colder.

On the roads, that can lead to icy conditions, as road salt doesn’t work as well in temperatures below 20 degrees, according to EG Public Works Director Joe Duarte. He said his department would be monitoring roadway ice accumulation. But it’s something to keep in mind on walkways around your home too.

You might want to try calcium chloride on your walkways, which works at lower temperatures. You can pick some up at Benny’s.

Frozen pipes are another problem, especially for those of us in older houses. If you have pipes that are near exposed areas, follow the tips below.

The other big priority is, of course, staying warm. If you do not have enough money to pay for heat, there is help. Erin McAndrew, director of senior services for the town, said she can offer heating assistance, but there is paperwork required. “It really depends on their income,” she said.

McAndrew said Swift Community Center is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays for anyone looking for a warm place to spend the day. 

For those with heating oil, now is NOT the time to run out. According to Steve DeLisle, owner of East Greenwich Oil, perhaps surprisingly people tend to pay more attention in January to how much oil they have.

“We get more calls about run-outs in March and April,” he said. “In the spring, they just forget all about heat and oil.”

That said, EG Oil will do what it can to get someone oil if they run out.

“We have a rapid-response vehicle – we have someone out asap, in an hour or less,” DeLisle said. “Especially on a 10 degree morning.”

The information on freezing pipes below comes from the Red Cross:

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.


  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
  • Remedies:

    • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
    • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
    • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
    • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
    • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.



    Steve Andrews January 23, 2013 at 06:12 PM
    Watson Mulch carries a de-icer called Blizzard Wizard in 50lb bags that works at below 0 temperatures. Great for walkways, driveways, and stairs. Environmentally and pet friendly. 401-885-0600 1500 South County Trail East Greenwich.


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