These 6 Easy Tips will help your plumbing make it through the cold.
If we are having a few days (or more) with temps staying below 26 degrees you will want to protect your pipes from freezing.
This may be old hat for you seasoned folks but a refresher is always good! For those of you who are new to the responsibilities of a home here are some things you can do to AVOID plumbing headaches this winter.
1: DON’T turn your heat OFF. If you are leaving for a few days or more and are trying to save a couple of dollars you may wind up costing yourself thousands! You can turn the heat down to 50F but any lower and you risk coming home to frozen pipes and a flooded basement.
2: Keep your cabinet doors OPEN where there are pipes (like under your sinks). When it gets cold we layer on the warm clothes, your pipes are (for all practical purposes) NAKED and without insulation, they rely on the heat in your home to keep them warm.
3: Keep garage doors (or any other exterior doors) CLOSED especially if there are exposed pipes in those spaces.
4: Holes and Cracks. Check where your pipes come into the home through walls or floors (or ceilings) and see if cold air is coming in too. If So… Grab a can of INSULATING SPRAY FOAM (Home Depot/Lowe’s and most hardware stores carry for $5-$10) and thoroughly seal around the pipes. Also, every year you should check your basement and attic for areas allowing cold air to enter. Depending on the size of the are you may be able to use caulk or the foam spray.
5: Attics and Basements. Temperatures in these areas of the home can get cold during winter months. Most homes already have any pipes insulated but if you are not sure about yours, CHECK NOW! Attics and Basements are generally not heated to the same degree (GET IT??) as the rest of the house so this is a critical issue. Your local hardware store should carry a few types of pipe insulation which comes in 6′ lengths at $2 and up.
6: Sump Pump. Check you sump pump for proper drainage. If your discharge line freezes you risk burning out your pump. It is NOT recommended that you use antifreeze but you can wrap any exposed section of pipe with heat tape.
7: Outside Faucets (I thought you said there were only 6 tips?! Warrior Plumbing and Heating ALWAYS delivers MORE!). Remove any hoses from outside faucets and hose bibs and if they have their own water valve shut it off and drain the lines.
Frozen Pipe Procedures
Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this but just in case…
If the pipe is NOT BROKEN: Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, space heater or electric lamp. Focus the heating where the pipe comes in from the wall. Monitor the process regularly and once water flows from the faucet you are done. DO NOT use OPEN FLAME to thaw your pipes. This is a catastrophe in the making and, well, just DON’T DO IT! Call the plumber not the Fire Department.
No Water? Hopefully, you will have only one frozen pipe to deal with BUT if you are not getting water from any faucet and your pipes are not frosted over you may have a problem outside of your home with your main water line either into or out from your water meter. Here in Baltimore, you can check to see if there are any water main breaks that may be affecting you: Baltimore City Water Main Repair Map
If your pipe has burst
1: SHUT your main water valve and water heater valve off
2: If you are in the Baltimore MD area CALL US. (if you are not in our service area contact your plumber immediately).