Cold temperatures and high winds during the winter months can cause your plumbing pipes to freeze within the wall. Unoccupied homes without perpetual heating can also lead to frozen pipes. The consequences of frozen plumbing can be very serious and extremely costly to repair. In addition, since cold weather tends to affect many people within a particular region, plumbing services are often in very high demand and parts are hard to come by. A burst in a main water pipe can potentially leave you high and dry for days on end. Take the following steps to ensure that your water pipes make it through the cold times.
Always leave a faucet dripping in every fixture in your home if you anticipate a freeze coming. This is especially true for faucets that have supply pipes that are running on the outside of your home, even if only for a short span. When water is moving, it is much more difficult to freeze then water that is standing still within a pipe.
Shut off water to outside faucets before the freeze arrives. In addition, after you shut off the main water supply, purge all the water from the faucet to ensure that all the plumbing is empty. When water freezes within a pipe, and then thaws when the weather warms up again, the ice expands and is very likely to break the pipe. This is one of the most common scenarios faced by hundreds of thousands of people every spring.
If you have cabinets that contain plumbing that is adjacent to outside facing walls, leave those cabinet doors open during a freeze. An enclosed space such as under the sink, especially if it is facing an outside wall, will have less exposure to heat and therefore be much more likely to freeze in cold weather. Leaving the cabinet doors open will allow heat from your home to keep the plumbing from freezing.
It is imperative that you insulate everything you can before the winter months arrive. This includes all plumbing that is exposed to the elements outside, and where possible, the pipes within the walls as well. Before the first big freeze of the winter, people make a mad rush to the hardware stores and often clear out all the pipe insulation quick. Be sure to plan in advance so you aren’t stuck in a bad situation.
If you plan on leaving your home unattended for any period of time during the cold months of the year, it is very important to plan appropriately. Make sure that you have a functional thermostat that is programmed to keep the house at an adequate temperature. It’s also a good idea to have a neighbor check on your house while you’re gone, as a total plumbing freeze that results from a failed heating system can be horrific.
If you have frozen pipes that need immediate attention, there are a few measures you can take before the plumber arrives, including turning up the heat in the room, exposing the pipe, and if available, point a space heater at the frozen plumbing.
Remember, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure that your plumbing survives even the harshest winter.