I write on this subject every fall, but at least one person reading this blog either knows someone--or is that someone--who neglected to prepare their pipes for winter and ended up with much more than a simple repair project on their hands. Burst pipes can create more than flooding or loss of winter water supply, they can affect the safety of your home and your belongings. While you can often prepare your home for winter without the services of a contractor, winter damage repair may be more than you can do on your own.
Insulating pipes with foam padding sleeves or special insulating tape is one of the best ways to keep exposed pipes from freezing or bursting. If temperatures drop below freezing, it's a good idea to open some valves and taps in the house and let the lines stay open. You don't need a torrent to clear them, either, when a simple trickle will do.
A lot of people only think of pipe wrap and insulation while remodeling, but if your home and plumbing have stayed in their original condition, you may need pipe insulation more than ever. The writers at Consumer Reports claim that insulated hot-water pipes hold water at 2 to 4 degrees higher temperatures than than do uninsulated pipes.
Steps to Protect Your Home from Frozen Plumbing
If your water pressure drops suddenly in freezing weather, you should turn off the supply to them and call in a plumber for safety's sake. Now, before it freezes out there, insulate all pipes that are exposed to the weather, including pipes in crawl spaces and garages. Disconnect water hoses and close all water shut off valves to the outside. Install insulated faucet jackets on them. If you have a dripping faucet outdoors, it can freeze and block indoor pipes to where they burst.
In terms of safety, remember that even a pipe with a small fissure can release more than 200 gallons a day. If you're going away for any extended period during the winter, shut off the water supply to the house, open all indoor faucets and drain them. Leave them open and set your thermostat at 55°F.
What If Pipes Burst?
If you have the skills in repairing a burst pipe, get on it as soon as possible. But if you're not sure, call in a plumbing contractor. Remember, though, during freezing temperatures, they may be booked with customers with the same problem. Be persistent.