Prevent Those Pipes From Freezing
Winter will be here officially the third week of December, however, many areas of the country have already been dealing with very cold temperatures, often dipping into the sub freezing zone and posing a serious threat to plants, pets, and in many cases, the piping that services your home. While some would argue that frozen pipes are just something that cannot be avoided, there are steps you can take and should take to try and prevent this from happening. Frozen pipes are bad enough, but when they burst as a result, then you have an entirely new set of problems on your hands.
Unfortunately, too many homeowners do not properly prepare for the possibility of frozen pipes, and a small crack in the piping of a home may allow up to 250 gallons of water to escape each day. If you have noticed a spike in your water bill despite routine usage, then this may be a sign of a burst pipe somewhere in the works. If the pipes have burst, then leave the faucets on while simultaneously shutting off the main water valve. Then call a basement flooding or water damage professional.
If you want to have the best shot at avoiding the problem to begin with, then set your heat in the home no lower than 55 degrees if you are going to be leaving during cold weather. This will keep the pipes warm. When the weather is very cold, then keep thermostats at the same temp day and night. Lowering the temperature means colder attic temps and more vulnerable pipes.
In the event of a problem, know where the main cutoff valve is in your home. Take any hoses that are stored outdoors and drain them completely before storing. Look for openings around unprotected water pipes where cold air can get in, and then seal those areas thoroughly. Pipes in attics and crawlspaces should be protected with foam sleeves or layers of fiberglass. Heating cables are another option.
When the weather is freezing, leave cabinet doors open under the kitchen or bathroom sinks in order to allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes. Another trick is to place a small lamp with an incandescent bulb near the pipes. Make sure there are no flammable materials in the area that could start a fire. Let faucets drip slowly in order to allow water to continue flowing through the pipes that may be vulnerable to freezing. If there are water supply lines in the garage, then keep the door closed.
If you turn on your faucet and get nothing, then congratulations, you probably have a frozen pipe. Try wrapping an electric heating pad around the pipe, or you can even use a hair dryer if all else fails. Leave the faucet open, since water will begin flowing when the problem is eliminated, however, refrain from using items such as blowtorches or propane heaters or anything with an open flame to thaw a pipe.