Space heater thawing froze pipes sparked fire in Hampton house


by 13News Now

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 8:45 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 27 at 12:40 PM

Hampton fire Westminister Drive

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HAMPTON-A space heater  beingb used to thaw frozen pipes sparked fire that damaged a Hampton home on Sunday afternoon, investigators said.

It took about 45 minutes to get the fire at the Westminister Drive home under control.

Investigators say the space heater had been placed at a crawl space vent to thaw some water pipes.  The forced heated air eventually caused the wood floor joists and an adjoining wall structure to ignite, causing the fire to spread within the wall of the home.

Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

These are tips from the American Red Cross on preventing pipes from freezing and then what to do if they do freeze.

-Drain water from pipes, water sprinkler supply lines
-Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
-Insulate both hot and cold water pipes unheated areas
-Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
-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.
-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.

If Your Pipes Freeze:
-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. Call a plumber or you can try do thaw it on your own. 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.