Be careful! The cold is upon us!
Tips to protect yourself and your property from the severe cold
Soon we are going to feel cold weather the likes many of us haven’t experienced in maybe a generation. Incredible cold is hitting the northern tier and northeast of the United States even as this post is being composed. Double-digit below zero temperatures are being recorded without the wind chill being factored in. Record low temperatures and daytime highs that are the record coldest are being recorded. Over 110 million people in the US are at risk for hypothermia in “minutes” in these record low temperatures1.
People should just stay indoors for the time being, if they can, until the worst of this cold passes. That is the best way for one to be protected. What about your home? What is at risk from the cold? A key system to pay attention to is your plumbing system. Anything that has water in it could be at risk for freezing. If a pipe does freeze, it could also be at risk for breakage and leaking when it thaws.
It is best to take steps to protect your pipes from freezing before the onset of cold weather. Here are some suggestions for you to consider:
- Turn up the heat! Now is not the time to be worrying about saving money on your heating bill. A lot of people turn their thermostats way down when they leave the house for the day or a weekend. When the weather turns extra cold however, you need to keep your home temperature at least at 65 degrees.
- Remove, drain, and store garden hoses that you use outdoors. Close inside valves that supply outdoor hose bibs. Also, open the outside hose bibbs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break. If you can obtain hose bibb insulation covers, it would be good to put them on all of your exterior through-the-wall hose bibbs
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces to help better retain indoor heat.
- Check around the home for other areas where water lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. Just because a water line carries hot water doesn’t mean it isn’t at risk for freezing.
- Open up cabinet doors if they are on outside walls and you have plumbing pipes behind or in them, such as at bathroom vanity cabinets or where your kitchen sink is. Allowing the warm air to get into these areas can help a great deal.
- If you have a swimming pool, drain the water from the water supply lines as per the manufacturer’s or installer’s instructions. Do not put antifreeze in the lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
- Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
- Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
- Make sure you know where your main water supply shutoff valve is. If you have a frozen pipe, you’ll need to know where to go to turn the water supply off. The moment a frozen pipe thaws, if it developed a leak, you will have a problem on your hands. Minimize it by knowing where that shutoff valve is and put it to use.
Do you suspect that you have a frozen pipe? Read more here for what to do.
If you have a frozen pipe and prefer not to tackle the task of thawing it out, contact Brubaker Inc. at 717.299.5641 or email us to schedule a service call.
For any drain or other plumbing problems, please set up a service call request with us at Brubaker Inc. at 717.299.5641 or email us.
Want to see what frozen pipes that burst can do? Take a peek at this picture gallery here.
For more information, see:
- Could this happen to you?
- How often should a furnace be serviced?
- Tips to cut your home energy bill.
- Seasonal tips for Winter.
- Winter isn’t over yet!
- Frozen Pipes?
1. ‘Frostbite and Hypothermia: How to Protect Yourself from the Cold’ Reader’s Digest
2. ‘US weather: Record low temperatures ‘threaten 110 million Americans’ with risk of hypothermia ‘in a matter of minutes” U.K. Independent, January 29, 2019
3. ‘Prevent Damage From Frozen Pipes’ Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
4. ‘Are Your Pipes Ready?’ Altra Dry, Mount Summit, IN
5. ‘Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes’ American Red Cross
6. ‘6 Great Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing’ The Balance.com