Temperatures are starting to drop and the holidays are upon us. What this means for many families is traveling to visit with loved ones or taking a vacation somewhere warm to get rid of the winter blues. What this time of year also means is frozen pipes, broken pipes, ice damming, and other cold weather issues. Before you travel out of town there are some things you can do to prevent water damage. We thought it was important to note that not all cold weather water damage issues rear their ugly heads immediately. Broken pipes - especially outside water sources aren't noticeable until the weather warms up when the ice thaws and begins leaking.
How to Help Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Disconnect your gardening hoses and installing insulated covers on outdoor faucets.
- Have a plumber install a shut-off valve for any outside water sources that is easily accessible from inside and purge the water lines.
- Open your cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
- Keep the interior temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you plan to be away from the property for several days or weeks.
- Close open-air vents. Windy drafts and sub-freezing temperatures can make pipes freeze easier.
- Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home like your garage, basement, and crawlspace. Crawl spaces typically have vents for airflow and these should be insulated during colder weather months to help prevent pipes from freezing. Just be sure to remove the insulation when the weather is warmer so that air can circulate again under your home.
- For homes with blown-in insulation, it is a good idea to periodically check to make sure that insulation travels from floor to ceiling. Temperature differences and seasonal changes can cause light condensation where your walls and roof meet. This can cause the insulation to shrink or pack down in this area. It is also a common area that we find mold when doing inspections.
- Wrap pipes closest to exterior walls and in crawl spaces with heating tape. This is inexpensive yet a very efficient way to prevent those pipes from freezing.
- During exceptionally cold temperatures, let your faucet drip slightly to minimize freezing. Freezing happens when water flow stops and is allowed to get cold. Lukewarm water is best for this.
What To Do If Your Pipes Do Freeze
The one thing to remember is that a frozen pipe doesn't necessarily mean a broken pipe. Many times you can thaw them out yourself. We recommend using a hair dryer, heat lamp, or wrapping hot towels around cold/frozen areas to thaw them out. Just be sure to use caution in case the pipe has broken when using any electric type heaters to prevent electric shock or fire.
If your pipes have broken and are leaking turn off the main water valve immediately to prevent further damage. After the water has been shut off, call a plumber to fix the broken pipe. If the damage is minimal you can possibly repair it yourself along with the plumber's assistance. If the damage has caused water to enter your home or business and has traveled into the walls, flooring, and other structural materials. Give our water damage restoration specialists a call. We're available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We also work with all insurance companies and will take care of all of the details.