It’s not uncommon for pipes to freeze and burst during the winter cold. To help prevent this messy and often expensive issue, check around your home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas – look in your basement, crawl space, garage, attic and under kitchen or bath cabinets. Also look for any pipes that run against exterior walls having little or no insulation. Make sure both hot and cold water pipes in any of these areas are properly insulated or use appropriate wrap-on heat tape to protect them.
In the unfortunate event that your pipes do freeze, they are covered under your homeowner’s policy. However, keep in mind that you will still have a deductible that you are responsible for. Not to mention the hassle of dealing with potential water damage if the situation goes undetected for any amount of time. In some cases, the damage may mean having to open up walls, ceilings and/or floors, creating more headaches.
As we head into the colder months, take preventative action to safeguard your pipes:
· Be sure you’ve disconnected all garden hoses and installed covers or faucet insulators on outside faucets. They cost only a few bucks and are worth every penny.
· Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
· Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water – even a trickle - through the pipes helps prevent freezing.
· Keep garage doors closed if you have water supply lines in there.
· Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
· If you’re leaving your house for an extended period of time during winter or if you have a seasonal cabin, make sure your thermostat is set no lower than 55˚ F. Also shut off your main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing toilets – this protects you in the event of a power outage or furnace malfunction.
The first sign of frozen pipes is reduced water flow from a faucet. During especially frigid temps, check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to bed and again when you wake up. Another helpful tip is to familiarize yourself and the rest of your household with the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. This may come in handy during an emergency!