By Keith Loria
When you’re a homeowner, the threat of low temperatures, snow and ice come with many concerns, one of the most feared being burst pipes. Not only does a burst pipe result in water spilling into your basement or home, if your house is on the market, the water damage can be detrimental when it comes to selling your home.
Pipes that are exposed to the weather—and unprotected—are vulnerable to bursting in a light freeze because of the wind chill. Luckily, there are some simple steps that a homeowner can take to protect pipes from freezing and bursting when the mercury drops.
One of the simplest solutions for exterior hoses or pipes that are vulnerable to freezing is to allow a small trickle of water to drip out when the temperatures get really cold. Open any faucets in the house for the same effect. Not only will this keep water constantly flowing, it will also keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the small amount of water is nothing compared to the cost associated with repairing a broken pipe.
It’s also a good idea to disconnect any outside hoses from the faucets and turn them off, especially if you’re not going to be using them.
You can even purchase and install foam insulation around your water pipes and tape the joints where two pieces of foam meet to keep your pipes warmer. In addition, you can install electric heating tape or cable around vulnerable, exposed pipes. These items are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at any hardware store.
If you’re planning on being out of town during a particularly cold time of year, have your neighbors check in on your pipes the same way you would have someone check on your pets. The last thing you want is to come home to a flood in your house because a pipe burst and no one was there to see it. If you must, turn off your water before leaving so you can ensure no leaks will occur.
Understand that these measures aren’t 100 percent effective and every homeowner (including every member of the family) should know the location of their water shut-off switch in case a pipe does burst, as closing it will keep the water from gushing in until you can get it fixed.