Frozen pipes can wreak havoc in the home, particularly when you are enjoying this holiday season with family and friends. Take these simple suggestions to better insulate and protect plumbing against the cold wintry weather and chilly temperatures.

Here are ten tips to keep pipes working well this winter:

1. Wrap and insulate any exposed pipes.

It is perfectly fine to wrap exposed pipes with blankets, towels, or anything that will help to insulate and protect them during chilly winter temperatures.

2. Drain the pipes well when leaving home or going out of town.

It is the water left in the lines that will freeze and cause pipes to burst or break. Drain them well, and open each faucet in the home wide, particularly when you are leaving home overnight or going away for the holidays.

3. Never use a torch to thaw pipes.

Instead, use a hair blow-dryer, holding it about six inches away from the pipe to slowly thaw out the frozen water. This will also work for pipes that you can't see, behind a wall in the home.

4. Before you close up your home, visit the toilet.

If you are closing up a home for the winter or after a stay, add some antifreeze to the toilet bowl. Adding a little to the sink-traps is also a good idea.

5. Know where the main water valve to the home is located, and use it.

If you plan to be away and are worried about pipes freezing, ask your water company to shut off the water to the home. You can turn the water off at the main valve, usually located near the street for town water supplies.

6. Slow and steady wins the race.

The key to thawing pipes before they can break and flood the home is to work slowly. Never use a torch, as mentioned, because they can create steam which could cause the pipe to explode.

7. Location is key.

Pinpointing the spot of your pipes that is frozen might be difficult if they have not yet broken or burst. Look for pipes in colder areas of the home, wipe the pipe with a wet cloth until you find a spot where frost forms.

8. Thaw your pipes from the faucet down.

When you are thawing frozen pipes, work from the side closest to the faucet. This allows the melted water to go down the drain. Be sure to open the faucets up wide before attempting to thaw pipes so the water has somewhere to go.

9. Oh, no! My pipes have burst!

When you discover pipes have broken and you have water all over your home, shut off the main water valve first. Shut off the electricity in the area where the pipe has leaked next, as long as you can reach it without touching water and getting shocked.

10. Avoid standing in water.

If you do have water in the home from busted pipes, avoid wading through any water that could potentially be in contact with electricity or outlets. Also, wear boots and gloves in case the water is contaminated with sewage in the drains. Disinfect well afterward.

Use these tips to keep your pipes protected during the colder seasons, and to avoid plumbing emergencies during the holidays. Taking care of your pipes during the winter can eliminate the need for costly services when you should be opening Christmas gifts and enjoying your family! If you do find yourself in a broken pipe emergency, call a plumber like Gold Seal Plumbing right away.