Winter arrived in Virginia with a vengeance this past weekend. Winter Storm Jonas dumped nearly unprecedented amounts of snow all over the Commonwealth. Temperatures dropped and businesses closed for two or three days running. While the temperature has risen quickly following the storm, we are still digging our way out and braving icy roadways in residential and rural areas.
Ice and snow are not the only dangers of winter, though. We can certainly expect more sub-freezing temperatures before this winter is through, and one the problems low temperatures can cause is freezing pipes. Frozen pipes can cause huge amounts of damage, especially if no one is home to turn off the water immediately. And this can lead to costly repairs – on top of the plumbing bill. Follow our guide to prevent pipes freezing and save yourself one heck of a headache.
Leave a Faucet Dripping
The common advice you hear to prevent pipes freezing is right on the money. Water expands as it freezes, causing pressure to build up that can cause pipes to break. Allowing water to continuously flow through the pipes prevents pressure from building up over time. It is best to leave the sink dripping that is the furthest from where water comes into the house. This means that water is flowing through all the pipes in your house, not just a few.
Check Your Outdoor Spigots
Make sure all outdoor spigots are turned off. Pipes that are more exposed to cold temperatures are the ones most likely to freeze. Disconnect all hoses. Close the inside valve that connects the outdoor spigots to water. Keep the outside valve open so that any remaining water can drain rather than remaining in the pipes to potentially freeze.
Check that pipes closest to outer walls are properly insulated. These are the indoor pipes most exposed to the cold and, therefore, most likely to freeze. If you find that these pipes are not insulated, use home insulation or a pipe sleeve to correct the problem. The more you can prevent freezing temperatures from reaching your pipes, the better off you will be.
Keep the Heat On
Set your thermostat for no lower than about 60 degrees, even if you will be away from home for an extended time. You want your pipes to be protected from temperatures below freezing, even when you are not present – perhaps especially then, as you will not discover a burst pipe until you return, which could cause catastrophic water damage.
Open the cabinet doors under sinks in the bathroom and kitchen to allow warm air to circulate more easily near these pipes.
An Ounce of Prevention
Make sure you know where the main water valve to your house is located. If, despite your best efforts, a pipe does burst, you will be able to find it quickly to turn the water off and mitigate the damage done by the burst pipe. Also turn the water off if you will be away from home for a while. This will keep you from coming home to a nasty surprise.
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