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Water Damage And Freezing Temps
With much of the eastern US under winter weather advisories this week, it is probably a good idea to look at how low temperatures affect your home, your plumbing, and may very well cause water damage problems. Taking care of problems now can spare you the expense of large scale repair bills later on.
One of the hazards of freezing weather is ice dams, which form when water pools up on your roof and then freezes. Water runs down to the roof edge and then freezes, blocking water from draining properly off the roof. This means that water will get into and under your roof and cause problems in your attic or within the walls of the home.
Ice dams can be dealt with by keeping the attic well ventilated. The colder it is in the attic, the less chances for melting and refreezing on the roof. Atti floors should be well insulated to prevent heat from rising and causing melting problems. You can also install water repellant membranes beneath the roof covering. You should also eliminate recessed light fixtures near the roof.
Freezing pipes are the most common problem in residential locations, causing pressure to build up behind the closed faucet, which may cause the pipes to actively burst if not properly corrected. Piping in attics, crawlspaces, and exterior walls are the most susceptible, since they are pretty much exposed to the elements.
Pipes should be fitted with insulation sleeves or wraps to slow the transfer of heat. Add as much as the location of the pipe will allow. There is no rule for “too much”. Cracks and holes should be sealed as well as foundations near water pipes. Cabinet doors should be kept open to allow for warm air to circulate around the pipes in the bathroom and kitchen. You may also want to keep water at a trickle through these pipes that run through unheated or otherwise unprotected space. If your home is going to be unattended for an extended time, then drain the pipes completely.
You should also review your homeowners policy to make sure you have sufficient coverage to protect your home, which is after all, your single largest investment. Any property water damage should be promptly reported to your agent and repairs made to avoid further damage.