Protecting your home from freezing outdoor temperatures will save you a lot of money, time and trouble. Winter often means freezing temperatures, unless you live in south Florida. A real “cold snap” can mean outdoor temps will remain below freezing for up to 2 weeks. Wind chill can drop 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 plumbing pipes.
Extra precautions should be taken if you are in an older home. This is especially important if you have a crawlspace. 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.
Precautions to Take: Exterior
There are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of having frozen plumbing pipes:
- Disconnect all exterior water hoses attached to faucets and install an insulated cover over it to help protect it. Pre-made exterior spigot covers are generally readily available and cheap at your nearest hardware store. In a pinch, a towel wrapped around the spigot and secured with duct tape or some type of strap.
- Cover any open crawlspace vents. Vent Covers are inexpensive and easily installed by the home owner.
Precautions to Take: Interior
- Set you’re faucets to run at a slow drip. It’s not necessary to turn on all the faucets in your home. Focus on the ones closest to exterior walls. Leave these few faucets on during especially bitterly cold weather. Running water, even a small trickle, can make all the difference.
- Moving water produces a small amount of heat and is harder to freeze than standing water. Leaving a few faucets running will help prevent ice blockages from forming in your plumbing. Running faucets also 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.
- Use a space heater in the garage or other areas where there is plumbing with no heat source, especially plumbing near exterior walls.
- 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 can spell “big bucks” for the plumbing professionals. 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.