Tips for preventing frozen pipes - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Tips for preventing frozen pipes

INSIDE YOUR HOME

Keep the house warm. Set the thermostat for at least 65 degrees, since the temperature inside the walls, where the pipes are located, is substantially colder—a lower temperature will not keep the pipes from freezing.

Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes (particularly in the kitchen and bathroom).

Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space. Or drain the water system, especially if your house will be unattended during cold periods.

Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic, it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. Water can then re-freeze, causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing. You may also consider insulating unfinished rooms such as garages to keep pipes from freezing.

Have the heating system serviced. Furnaces, boilers and chimneys should be serviced at least once a year to prevent fire and smoke damage.

Check pipes. Look closely for cracks and leaks and have the pipes repaired immediately. Wrap exposed pipes with heating tape.

Install an emergency pressure release valve in your plumbing system. This will protect against the increased pressure caused by freezing pipes and can help prevent your pipes from bursting.

Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly. Residential fires increase in the winter, so it is important to protect your family with working alarm systems. Also, consider installing a carbon dioxide detector, since a well sealed home can trap this toxic gas.

Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent pipes from bursting.

Hire a licensed contractor to look for structural damage. If damage is discovered, you can have it repaired immediately rather than waiting for a more severe problem to occur. Also, ask about ways to prevent water damage resulting from snow-related flooding. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump pumps and other methods can prevent flood damage to your home and belongings.

OUTSIDE YOUR HOME

Clean out gutters. Remove leaves, sticks and other debris from gutters, so melting snow and ice can flow freely. This can prevent ice damming—a condition where water is unable to drain through the gutters and instead seeps into the house causing water to drip from the ceiling and walls.

Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves and/or UL listed heat tape. Two inches of insulation is optimal. The more insulation the better.

Drain the water from sprinkler systems and exterior pool/spa supply lines, especially if your house will be unattended during cold periods.

Remove and drain garden hoses. If the supply line to the hose bib has a shut off valve, shut off the supply to the house bib and drain the supply line.

Install gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, "gutter guards" prevent debris from entering the gutter and interfering with the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.

Trim trees and remove dead branches. Ice, snow and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, causing damage to your home or car, as well as injury to people on your property.

Repair steps and handrails. This may prevent someone from falling and being seriously injured. Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when covered with snow and ice.

Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations. Use caulking to protect water pipes and make sure that skylights and other roof openings have proper weather stripping to prevent snowmelt from seeping in.

Learn how to turn off the water supply to your home or call your water supplier in case of burst pipes.

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