This time of year, it isn’t uncommon to hear about extreme cold snaps bearing down on homes across the country. When the thermometer drops, it is important to keep our friends, neighbors, and families safe from the elements, but it is also important to check on our homes. While it is an often-overlooked detail until something happens, keeping pipes from freezing is a necessary step during cold weather.
The pipes servicing the outside, running through unheated areas of the home, and those near an exterior wall are most at risk. There are a few different methods for preventing frozen pipes: turning off water supply to the outside, flushing the sprinkler system to remove water, insulating pipes, and circulating heat around pipes. The outside work should have been done before winter, so we’ll focus on insulation and heat.
Insulation. Insulation is everywhere in your home, keeping the warm in and the cold out. If you have pipes located in colder areas like crawl spaces or attics, you might want to add insulation there. There are also insulation products specifically for plumbing. Using a pipe sleeve and heat tape is an alternative in sections of piping more exposed and at greater risk of freezing.
Heat. Another major factor in preventing frozen pipes is the presence of warm air. If there is enough heat to keep the water flowing, pipes should not freeze. In extreme cold, keep an eye on areas with piping running on an exterior wall, like a kitchen or bathroom sink. A simple solution could be to keep the cabinets with access to plumbing open, which allows warmer air to circulate around the pipes. Be sure to keep your home temperature up if you go away during a cold spell.
Whether it is a polar vortex or just winter, preventing frozen pipes will help avoid a mess and a headache. Keep those pipes warm!