Protecting your pipes is priority number one when it comes to winterizing your home. And the time to do it is well before outdoor temps dip below freezing temperatures
Among the causes of winter season property damage, burst pipes top the list. And the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety says it’s not unusual for water damage claims to climb into the thousands.
Here’s a checklist of the best preventative measures to protect your pipes and avoid potential catastrophe – and a costly insurance claim.
- Drain supply lines to swimming pools and exterior water sprinklers.
- Disconnect, drain and store outdoor hoses. Close inside valves supplying water to outdoor faucets. Open the valves to drain completely.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
- Seal cracks around windows, doors and your home’s foundation to prevent drafts.
- Insulate pipes with pipe sleeves, heat tape, heat cable in unheated areas of your home like the garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Whatever you use for pipe insulation, don’t skimp on it.
- Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warm air flow around the plumbing.
- Let cold water drip from a faucet connected to exposed pipes. Even a trickle helps keep pipes from freezing.
- Maintain consistent temps on your thermostat. If you lower the heat at night, don’t lower it by more than a few degrees. A cold snap is no time to cut back.
- Set the heat at no lower than 55° F if you plan to be away during cold weather.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
If you suspect your pipes may be frozen, here’s how to check – and safely thaw them out:
- Turn on a faucet. If only a trickle comes out, there’s a good chance you have a frozen pipe.
- Turn off the water at the main shutoff valve as a safety precaution. The main shutoff valve is typically located at your water meter or where the main line enters your house.
- Keep the faucet open and apply heat to frozen pipes. NOTE: Never use an open flame, such as a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or charcoal stove.
- Apply heat to frozen pipes until full water pressure resumes. Check all other faucets to see whether you have any other frozen pipes.
- Call a licensed plumber if you can’t thaw the pipe or can’t locate or gain access to it.
Remember: copper, brass, PVC – no matter how strong they are, pipes are highly susceptible to freezing and bursting in freezing temperatures. Keep this checklist handy and your pipes safe.