When a hard freeze is forecast, it’s time to start worrying about water pipes. From experiences in my own home…and old one with exposed water pipes in the crawl space beneath the flooring…that dreaded temperature is around the twenty degree mark and lower. Homes built the south aren’t generally as protected as those built in the north, so we’re typically more vulnerable to pipe freezing than those living in the nation’s colder climates.
The best way to keep water pipes from bursting, of course, is to insulate pipes and plan ahead. When a hard freeze is upon us and there’s no time for that, however, here are a few tips to help get you through the cold nights upon us….
* Keep water dripping in bathrooms and kitchen. Even if a slow drip doesn’t keep the water from freezing, it will at least keep the pipes from bursting, as it will release the pressure that usually causes bursting.
* Disconnect water hoses from outside faucets and let these faucets drip as well.
* Keep the home thermostat as high or higher than normal for the night.
* Open closet and cupboard doors to allow more heat for under-the-floor and under-the-sink plumbing.
* Keep the garage door closed, if there are water pipes there.
* Check for any bottled liquids left outside which may freeze and burst.
* Keep pool or spa pumps running to avoid freeze damage
* Make sure you have water stored away in case your pipes do freeze.
In the event you’re leaving the home for a few days during “freeze prone” times of the year, be sure to shut off water to the home and leave faucets open…and keep some protective heat running in your home to ward off costly repairs caused by flooding due to frozen and bursting pipes.
In case you do experience misfortune, make sure you know, ahead of time, where the main shut-off valve to the home and the main disconnect at the meter are located…and how to disconnect water from the home to minimize damaging leaks after the pipes thaw.
Always be careful when taking more extreme measures to thaw out water lines. NEVER USE A BLOW TORCH OR OTHER FORM OF EXPOSED FLAME TO THAW OUT FROZEN PIPES! The best way to thaw out is usually to let it happen naturally. Keep faucets open and keep a watch for any leaks that may have occurred.
A little early planning can always guard off an unexpected experience. As they say…better safe than sorry.