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How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing This Winter

As temperatures drop, it becomes increasingly necessary to take preventative action in caring for your house‘s pipes. Some of your pipes are more prone to becoming frozen than others, including those situated in exterior walls, and those exposed in unheated parts of your home or outside. Here’s what you can do to avert frozen pipes, and to deal with them if the situation does arise.

  • Insulate Pipes: Remember all the spaces that could be affected by cold air including the crawlspace under your house, the attic, garage, under cabinets, and exterior walls. Wrap the pipes with secure snap-on foam insulation. Just remember that insulation does not prevent freezing, but simply slows the transfer rate of cold air. You can also use heater tape, which has a built-in thermostat, or a heated reflector lamp, in a dry enclosed space. 
  • Drain Water: from your swimming pool if you have one, and your sprinkler system lines. Remove, drain, and store garden hoses. Shut off inside valves that supply outside hose bibs, and open them to allow water to drain; keep them open so that any leftover water in the pipe can expand without breaking it.
  • Drip Your Faucets: Let lukewarm water continuously drip from your faucets that have exposed pipes to lessen their chance of freezing. 
  • Check For Under-Insulated Walls: If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen before, you can check for signs including mold, moisture-buildup, and water damage. 
  • Open Cabinet Doors: To let the warmer surrounding air reach the colder pipes inside cabinets.
  • Close Garage Door/s: To keep as much warm air inside as you can, if you have water supply lines there.
  • Laundry Room: If there’s no faucet in your laundry room, set the washing machine water temperature to warm, and start the cycle for a few minutes periodically to keep water running through the pipes.
  • Foundation: If your home has a crawlspace, make sure the foundation is completely enclosed, and fill in any gaps. Close off foundation vents under the house when it gets extremely cold.
  • If You’re Leaving Your House: for a trip, etc., set the thermostat at no less than 55 degrees. Also, shut off the main water supply and drain the system by flushing the toilets and opening all the faucets. 
  • Uh-Oh! Your Pipe/s Froze: If there’s only a small drip or trickle of water coming out of the faucet when you turn it on, then it may be frozen. First, locate the water main cut-off valve and turn it off. Then, open the pipe the faucet runs to, to allow water to flow through it and relieve any built-up pressure. Next, heat the frozen pipe using a heat lamp, hairdryer, space heater, towels soaked with hot water, or electric heat tape. After pipes have thawed, check for leaks by shutting off all the water to faucets and the ice-maker, and monitor the water meter for any hidden leaks.

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