A number of different maintenance issues can arise for a home as the weather gets colder. One of the most common problems that may occur when the temperatures drop below freezing is for water pipes to freeze. This can be a major problem because it can cause the pipe to burst and this can result in serious water damage and expensive repairs. For homeowners that live in areas where freezing temperatures are common, it is necessary to take a few steps to prevent pipes from freezing.
Pipes that are in certain areas of the home or property are especially vulnerable to the possibility of freezing. Any pipes that run outside or through an area of the home that is poorly insulated or unheated will be at risk and this is true even if the pipe carries hot water. When you are considering pipes that may need to be protected against the cold weather, you will want to consider any pipe that runs outside, pipes that run through a basement or crawlspace, pipes that run through the attic and any pipe that runs on an exterior wall.
When it comes to lines that run outside, we are typically talking about things like sprinklers, a supply for a pool and the outside faucets. In the wintertime, you will not be using the lines for the pool and the sprinkler, so the best thing to do is turn the supply to them off. For the outside faucets, the homeowner should disconnect the hose from the faucet and place a cover over the end. Covers for an outside faucet can usually be found at your local hardware store.
When it comes to the pipes inside the home, you will need to inspect areas like the basement, crawlspace, attic and possibly the garage. These areas tend to not be as well insulated as the rest of the house and they are not usually provided with heat from the furnace. When you have identified the pipes and areas of the home that need protection, you will have a few options.
Depending on the area of the home, you could add some insulation to the area around the pipe to protect it from freezing. You can probably pick up some good home insulation that will provide adequate protection at the hardware store. The idea is to keep the pipe completely covered and protected from the cold.
Products like a pipe sleeve or heat tape can also work well for protecting pipes from freezing. They can usually be purchased at a hardware store and they are relatively easy to install. It is important to read and follow all instructions when you install a product like heat tape. You will also want to make sure that it is also rated for use on the type of pipe that you are trying to protect.
The homeowner may also want to consider protecting the pipes that are under the bathroom and kitchen sinks. While they are in the home, the cabinets often limit the heat that can get to the pipes. One simple way to protect these pipes is to open the doors for the sink cabinets when you are asleep or away from home.
How you control your thermostat will also be an important part of prevention. While it is ok to turn the heat down when there is nobody at home, you still need to keep the house at a reasonable temperature to protect against the possibility of a frozen pipe. You don’t need to keep the home comfortable for human occupation, just warm enough so that the pipes do not freeze. Anything above 55° F should be sufficient for times when the home is empty.
Home water pipes can freeze rather easily when they are unprotected and the resulting damage can be costly. Investing a little time and money on prevention can save the homeowner from a lot of hassle and the major repairs that are often associated with a burst water pipe.