Burst pipes can be a painfully expensive and messy event that you should try at all costs to avoid, especially because the steps to prevent them are so simple. A burst pipe can cause catastrophic water damage to your home that can take months to repair and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to remedy. Here’s how you can protect your pipes when the temperatures dip this winter:
– Drip your faucets when the temperature dips below freezing. Usually dripping one faucet is enough and a slow drip is ideal so you don’t run up a larger water bill over time. Even if pipes freeze, a dripping faucet will ensure that there’s not enough pressure in your plumbing system to actually cause them to burst.
– Disconnect garden hoses and store them for the winter. Any leftover water that stays in the hose can freeze, expand and push water back into the main plumbing system, bursting pipes that aren’t even near the original source of the freezing.
– Install frost-proof spigots or faucet insulators on outdoor faucets, the latter of which cost only a few dollars and are simple to install.
– Open up cabinet doors, especially those encasing pipes on exterior walls so that the pipes can stay as warm as possible.
– Pipes in unheated garages, attics and crawl spaces can cause serious problems. Wrap them in foam pipe insulation to ensure they stay warm no matter the temperature.
– If a pipe continuously gives you problems, it may be worth the cost to actually open up that wall and install additional insulation; there’s also a chance that those pipes were installed incorrectly.
– When you leave your home for an extended period of time, make sure that your heater is set at a minimum of 55 degrees to ensure that pipes stay warm while you’re away. If you’ll be away for more than a week and you live in an extreme cold climate, shut off the water, open the faucets and flush the toilets until all the water has flown out of the system to clear all the water out of your plumbing system.
– If, despite your best efforts, they do freeze, leave your faucets on so that as they unfreeze, running water will help to make it happen faster.
– If you can locate the portion of the pipe that is frozen, use a hair dryer, space cheater or warm towels to attempt to unfreeze it and get everything moving again. If you can’t locate the source or your efforts aren’t helping, call a plumber immediately.
With just a little bit of effort, you can ensure that you won’t have a frozen pipe disaster on your hands this winter!