Water expands as it freezes — which is why frozen pipes often become burst pipes. Preventing frozen pipes should be at the top of your winter home preparations. From simple inconvenience to expensive and lengthy home repair, frozen pipes can wreak havoc on your home and bank account; these tips will help prevent problems and keep your pipes from freezing.
1. Close the garage door
If you have exterior pipes that enter your home they may run through the garage. Make sure this area is closed off and not open to the elements. Even if the area is not heated, closing the door may help retain enough heat to prevent freezing.
2. Open cabinet doors
The pipes under your kitchen or bathroom sinks are vulnerable to freezing if they are located along an exterior wall. Lack of insulation may lead to frozen pipes in these areas; opening the cabinet doors and using a space heater in the room may help by preventing frozen pipes in these crucial areas.
3. Winterproof in the fall
Before the first snowfall or freezing night arrives, take a tour of your home and cover any exposed pipes with foam insulation. Even if you were prepared last winter, animal damage, water damage and other problems may have rendered your old insulation useless, so check before the cold arrives to aid in preventing frozen pipes.
4. Turn up the heat
It may add to your utility costs, but turning up the heat in an older or poorly insulated home can save your plumbing. Using a space heater in high risk areas can help as well, but if your home is raised or has pipes running below the floors, raising the heat is the best way to protect your plumbing.
5. Turn off the water
If you expect lower than normal temperatures and know your pipes are exposed or at risk, turning off the main water valve can protect the pipes. The pipes will still get cold, but with no water to expand inside, they won’t burst. Consider this a course of last resort, as the water will not be available for household use until you turn it back on.
6. Let water trickle outside
If you have exterior faucets or systems, let the water trickle slowly out. This gives expanding water a place to go and will keep the pipes from bursting in extreme temperatures.
Prevention and knowing your homes’ unique layout and vulnerabilities will help you in preventing frozen pipes in the winter. Add winter maintenance to your list of home chores at the end of each summer and you’ll be able to add insulation and complete any repairs in comfort and before the freezing weather arrives.