As summer draws to a close, you may be thinking about the coming winter. Is your home ready for the first frosts? You can learn how to protect your pipes from freezing before it’s too late.
More than a quarter of a million households have frozen pipes every winter. Not only are frozen pipes expensive to repair, but your home and its contents can be destroyed. In minutes, a crack of one-eighth an inch can release 250 gallons of water and disrupt your life in a way you may never imagine.
Negative temperatures and cold winds can wreak havoc on your water pipes if they are not protected. What can you do now to prepare for this first frost to make sure your pipes don’t freeze and burst this year?
Know where your home’s main water shut-off faucet is located
This will allow you to turn off the water from the house if one of the pipes freezes and bursts. The faster you can turn off the water, the less damage there will be. It will also give you time to call the plumber for help.
Find out where the water pipes are in your home
In most cases, they will be in the crawl space under your house or possibly in your attic. Once you have found the exposed pipes, wrap them in insulation. The more protective insulation you can wrap around them, the less likely they are to freeze and burst.
In extremely cold temperatures, you can also use thermostatically controlled heating cables.
These can be wrapped around the insulation and should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions for their installation. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. independently tests and approves these cables; be sure to use only those that have been UL approved.
Take the time to plug any leaks around the pipes, which can allow cold air to enter the area where the pipes are exposed.
- This could mean checking around the electrical wiring, which runs through the walls, dryer vents and pipes themselves. Use flexible insulation, caulking or an expandable foam insulation box. By blocking as much air as possible, you will reduce the risk of pipes bursting.
- Unplug and remove any garden hoses that will not be used during the winter. Turn off the faucet and drain all tap water.
- If you need to leave a faucet active for any reason, remove the garden hose between uses. You can also put an insulating cap on the faucet to prevent it from freezing.
- When temperatures are expected to become particularly freezing, let a trickle of hot and cold water flow into at least one sink on an outdoor wall. This may be just enough to avoid freezing the pipes.
- Leave cabinet doors with un insulated pipes underneath to remain open. This will allow the warm air from the house to heat the pipes and prevent them from freezing.
- Keep your home thermostat set to no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even if you are not at home. Then, ask your family or neighbor to periodically check your home while you are away to make sure the temperature doesn’t fall too low.
No one wants to experience a bursting water pipe. By preparing for the first frost, you will be on the right track to avoid one.