When fall weather turns into wicked arctic temperatures in the Wichita area, it’s time to prepare your home for freezing conditions. Because what’s worse than a major home maintenance disaster? How about several home disasters at once? One frozen pipe can compound into several other issues. A quarter of a million families each year experience water damage because of frozen pipes. Don’t become part of this statistic.
Pipes freeze for a combination of three basic reasons: sudden drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats sets too low. Both plastic and copper pipes have the potential to freeze during cold winter months. Sadly, fixing a frozen pipe–and other issues surrounding a pipe burst–is not as simple as calling out a plumber. Even a crack as small as 1/8 inch can dump up to 250 gallons of water into your home. It doesn’t take long to realize that this causes flooding, serious structural damage, and the hazardous potential for mold.
Fortunately for you, frozen pipes are completely avoidable if you take action well before the cold Kansas winters blow in! Take these preventative measures to ensure a winter-proof home.
Before the Cold
Insulate everything! Even if you live in a climate where regular freezing is rare, insulation could be the difference between thousands of dollars in repair costs and a safe, warm winter.
Insulate pipes in your crawl space, attic, and other areas where prolonged cold temperatures are likely. Remember: The more insulation you use, the more protected your pipes are.
Use heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to wrap pipes.
Seal any leaks near pipes that allow cold air inside. Look for small leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, kitchen sinks, and of course, pipes.
Drain your hose by draining any sitting water inside and then shutting off an indoor valve.
Be cautious of internal pipes freezing due to poor installation or insulation. If you’ve experienced water damage from poor installation before, call a professional to figure out the root of the problem.
Perform a quick visual assessment of your home. Look for exposed pipes, signs of previous water damage, and cracks that could potentially let in cold air.
During the Winter Months
If you fly south for the winter and turn your heat off, you could easily come home to a cold, wet, soggy house. This isn’t the time to worry about your heating bill. Keep the thermostat set at 65 or above, even if you’re leaving for only a short time.
Leaving a steady trickle of warm water on could be all you need to prevent frozen pipes! If you are worried about frozen pipes during the night, turning on a slow drip of water in the kitchen could solve your problem.
Open cabinet doors to equalize the temperature near exposed pipes. Kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room cabinets are all high-risk areas.
If Your Pipes Freeze
Turning on the faucet without any stream of water is the first sign of a frozen pipe. But don’t panic! They may be frozen, but they might not have burst yet.
Follow these safety measure if you suspect a frozen and/or burst pipe:
Do not use electrical appliances near standing water. You could be electrocuted.
If your pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve.