Here in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains, it looks like were are in for an extended spell of freezing temperatures. Some meteorologists are saying we have not experienced this in nearly 40 years. Outdoor temps will remain below freezing for up to 2 weeks according to the weather forecast. With the North wind dropping temps to as low as 20 below zero in some areas, vulnerable plumbing (even in homes or buildings that have never experienced problems), can experience frozen and burst plumbing pipes.
If you are in an older home or building, or any home or building with a crawl space underneath, you need to take some extra precautions to avoid major damage to the exposed pipes under the home or building and in perimeter walls. Owners of newer homes or buildings must also be careful not to leave a water hoses attached to their exterior faucets. They should be covered with some form of insulation as well, particularly if they are on the North side of the home.
If your home or building is on a crawl space or if you have pipes in the perimeter exterior walls, her are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of having your pipes freeze and bust.
- Disconnect all exterior water hoses attached to faucets and install an insulated cover over it to help protect it. If you can’t get to the store to purchase a pre-made one, a towel wrapped around the spigot and secured with duct tape or some type of strap will work in a pinch.
- If you have any crawlspace vents that are not covered, stop by your local hardware outlet and pick up a few. They are easy to install and can really help your home retain its heat.
- Set your faucets to run at a slow drip. You don’t have to turn on all the faucets in your home or building, but it’s good to focus on the ones closest to exterior walls. Leave these few faucets on during especially bitter weather. Running water, even a small trickle, can make all the difference in the world.
- Due to friction created by the constant movement, moving water produces a small amount of heat and is harder to freeze than standing water. By just leaving a few faucets running, the movement will help prevent ice blockages from forming in your plumbing. Even more than the small amount of friction and heat produced by moving water, a running faucet relieves pressure build up in cold pipes. This helps to keep your pipes from bursting, even if the water inside freezes. If both hot and cold water lines are exposed, leave both slightly running to make sure pressure doesn’t build up in one and not the other.
- Lastly, for good measure, open all the cabinet doors where any plumbing is located to get warm air in there. Again, this is especially important on plumbing near exterior walls.
Cold spells like this are a boon for the plumbing industry, just like storm season is great for the roofing industry. I’m all for keeping the small business man in business but, there’s no need to spend that money until you have to, right? So take a few minutes to get a plan in place to reduce your risk of unnecessary repair costs, and share this article with someone you know that should do the same.