There are several major inconveniences that a household can endure during the harsh winter months. Few, if any, are as expensive and inconvenient as frozen plumbing or, even worse, a burst pipe. About 250.000 homes a year experience a burst water pipe due to below freezing temperatures. Plumbing damaged by freezing temperatures normally require the attention of a trained plumbing professional to fix and can hit the wallet hard. The good news is that frozen or burst pipes are very preventable. Expending a small amount of time and effort can save you from a major stress inducing disruption and a costly plumber’s bill.
Here are a few tips to help prevent frozen pipes during the winter.
You can start preventing frozen water pipes before the winter cold hits them. Insulation is key. Pipes located under the house, in the basement and in the attic are more exposed to the outside elements and, therefore, more likely to freeze. You can get pipe insulation at most local and major hardware stores. For people living in an exceptionally cold climate, use heat tape between the pipes and insulation for extra protection. Heat tape is very useful and is normally priced from about 15.00 to 60.00 depending on the brand and length. A heated reflector lamp can also be used in areas more prone to freezing. Ensure heat tape and the reflector lamp are used in a dry environment as they must be plugged in.
Set Them to Drip
Another tip is to turn on any faucets until there is a slight drip. This keeps a flow of water moving and less likely to freeze. This is most important for sinks and faucets on an exterior wall.
Open up the cabinet doors underneath sinks that are on exterior walls. Pantry doors sometimes have pipes as well. Opening these up allows the warm air circulating in the house to reach the exposed pipes.
Always make sure that your thermostat is set at 55 to 65 degrees. Whether you are leaving for a few hours or a few days, during the winter months it is imperative that you keep your heat on and your house temperature well above freezing.
Clear up Leaks
Check for leaks under sinks and in basements and attics. Any freezing outside air coming in is a potential hazard for your pipes. Use the appropriate sealant or caulk to securely plug any leaks. Caulk and accessories can be found at any hardware store and is normally very inexpensive.