What is the first thing that comes to mind when the temperature drops below freezing? Frozen pipes, right? Come on! I can’t be the only one! Alright, maybe it isn’t the first thing you think of, but it should be there somewhere. That is especially true when we are having one the weeks like we are having right now in the Midwest.
It is estimated that over 250,000 families incur damage in their homes every year due to water pipes that freeze and burst. The problem with water lines that burst is the damage that can be done after the fact. A ¼” crack in a water supply line can leak 250 gallons of water in a 24 hour period. Depending on where the pipe is determines how much damage there will be. Imagine that much water leaking in a second floor bathroom and finding its way down to the finished basement. What a mess!
Not all frozen pipes split. Sometimes the expanding water causes cracks that don’t leak until they thaw out. Normally, the first indication of a frozen pipe is reduced or no water flow at the fixture. If you turn on a faucet and little or no water comes out, call a plumber! If it’s already too late and there is water spewing from the pipe, close the main water shut off valve. Take some time to educate all persons living in your home on where the main valve is located and how to operate it. Don’t wait until there is a problem.
I recommend keeping the thermostat at a comfortable temperature, but never below 55 degrees. This alone will prevent most water lines from freezing, but water lines in exterior walls may still be at risk. Some of the tricks you can try to prevent those pipes from freezing are:
- Leave cabinet doors below sinks open to allow warm air in.
- Allow water to trickle out of faucets over night for sinks on exterior walls.
- Ensure garden hoses are disconnected. If your home does not have frost proof bibs, locate the isolation valve and turn to off position.
- Insulate any water lines that are in unheated areas of your home like the attic, crawl space and attached garage.
- Seal all penetrations in the exterior walls with caulk.
While there is no guarantee these steps will provide adequate protection, it is better than doing nothing at all. Be aware of what’s going on in and around your home. Take precautions. Have a plan in place if needed. And if you are leaving your home for an extended period of time call our office to get information on our Vacation Inspections.
Winter Plumbing Problem Prevention
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