Don’t let frozen pipes flood your home.
Water expands when it freezes, which makes icebergs float and pipes burst. Any enclosed water that freezes will expand putting extreme pressure on water supply lines, pipes (including metal pipes), hoses, and water sprinkler lines. Sometimes the unfortunate result is a burst pipe, which, as soon as it thaws, will flood your home with gallons of water. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety says that this could cost you on average about $5000.00 dollars. Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your home from frozen pipes.
Know where the pipes are likely to freeze.
You need to be the most concerned about pipes running anywhere cold. Pipes in unsealed crawl spaces, uninsulated attics, garages, or along exterior walls are the most at risk. Sometimes if your walls are insufficiently insulated, pipes inside cabinets that run along these walls could freeze. Do you feel a cold draft when you open cabinets secured to exterior walls? Keep an eye on the pipes inside.
Before the temperature drops take precautionary measures
You know where your pipes are most likely to freeze. Now, take some steps to keep that from happening. Shut off inside valves that supply water to outdoor water hookups and spigots. Open these hose bibs to allow any water inside to drain out, and leave them open. If you know that a pipe is poorly insulated, use a handy product like a pipe-sleeve, or UL listed heating cable to keep it warm. The American Red Cross reports that even a ¼ inch of newspaper wrapped around your pipes can make a noticeable difference (if the pipe isn’t in prolonged freezing temperatures).
Think about larger issues.
It may take a licensed professional, but here in the north you might want to take serious steps to avoid burst pipes. Be sure to insulate your crawl space, and maybe think about sealing it. All pipes should be on the interior side of the insulation. Landlords should consider winterizing the plumbing on vacant properties, so that you don’t have any unpleasant and expensive surprises. This is also something homeowners should consider doing for second homes, especially vacation houses here in Michigan where the temperature is routinely below 20 degrees in the winter.
Don’t leave home without doing these things.
Open cabinet doors on cupboards with pipes, allowing warm air to circulate. Make sure that the air is warm enough to prevent frozen pipes by setting your thermostat no lower that 55 degrees, even while you’re away. You might think that going lower will save you money, but that reduced energy bill won’t offset the cost of a flood from a burst pipe. Finally, let water drip from any tap that is connected to a pipe that might freeze. The flowing water will help prevent freezing.
Keep a few key phone numbers in an accessible place.
You don’t want to waste time comparing plumbers while your family heirlooms float past your feet. Write down the number of a trusted plumber somewhere readily available. Put your insurance agent’s line down as well. Finally, remember that Modernistic’s IIRC certified technicians are available 24/7 with a lightning fast response time. Contact us any time of night or day—we’re ready to bail you out (literally).
Helping homes recover from frozen pipe damage in Battle Creek, Michigan, for 40 years.