This week has been cold for many parts of the United States. When this type of cold hits, it can devastate many homes and businesses in the form of water damage, ice dams on roofs, and even burst pipes. Frozen pipes are accountable for many cases of water damage each year in the United States, but luckily it can be prevented by taking some preventative measures.
Each winter the pipes that are in your home are at risk of freezing due to the cold temperatures. These low temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze and even burst if the problem persists. Here are some tips to help you prepare your home before your pipes can freeze.
First, you can start outside by disconnecting any gardening hoses and installing covers on all outside faucets. After disconnecting your hoses you will want to make sure that they are completely drained before storing them away for winter. Next, you will want to adjust the thermometer to a warmer temperature. You should always keep your home at 68 degrees or higher even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time, because cold is the culprit to frozen and burst pipes.
Opening the doors to the cabinets below the sink will allow heat from your home to circulate around the pipes, keeping them at a warmer temperature. You will want to insulate the pipes that are closest to any exterior walls with pipe insulation or heating tape. This will prevent them from freezing, especially the interior pipes that run along outside walls. You can get both pipe insulation and heating tape at your local hardware store. Make sure that all of the windows near water pipes are closed and sealed correctly. Check for any drafts, and if there are, caulk the spaces that you can determine are letting in cold air.
Heat your basement and also consider weather sealing your windows. Insulate any outside walls or unheated parts of your estate. The best and most effective way to prevent frozen pipes is by preparing ahead of time. Did you know that a 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can let out 250 gallons of water in just one day? Imagine what that could do to a home if the homeowners were not around to catch it.
To many people’s surprise, ice that forms in a pipe usually doesn’t cause a break where the blockage occurs. What causes the pipe to burst is the expansion inside of the pipe that is caused by the pressure between the ice blockage and the water trying to get through.
If one of your pipes does freeze, you can try to thaw it yourself using a hair dryer. Do not try this if there is standing water in your home. To thaw a frozen pipe, heat some water on the stove and soak some towels in the hot water, then wrap them around the coldest sections of the pipes. When you do try to thaw a pipe, you will want to start thawing nearest to the faucet, and make sure to keep it on so that the melted water can drip out.
Now if you’re leaving your home for an extended period of time, the best way to prevent your pipes from freezing is to turn off your water at the main and then open all faucets or showers and flush all toilets after turning off the main line. This will get all of the water out of your pipes. The only pressure that will be left is by the main valve which is just above the ground, so it will not freeze.
Leaving your home at 68 degrees is always a good idea but if the power goes out, your furnace will be out. With this weather the pipes could freeze quickly. That is why it is smart to take other measures to ensure that your pipes do not freeze this winter.