Winter is officially here and although most love the allure of the snow and colder temperatures, our homes take a beating during the extreme weather conditions that occur during this unpredictable time of year. None is more important than making sure your pipes are protected during the winter months.
The piping system of a home is very complex as it is located within the walls of the home, basement or crawl space making it extremely difficult to detect the smallest of leaks until they cause visible damage to walls and ceilings.
Although complex and time consuming, precautions can be taken to avoid water damage to your home due to frozen pipes in winter. Most importantly, you must make sure your pipes are insulated. This process can be done any time of the year and could potentially save on annual energy costs. The pipes that are most important to insulate are those that are exposed throughout the house such as under sinks, in bathrooms, attics, outside spigots or basements. It's fairly easy to insulate the pipes yourself. Simply purchase pipe insulation from your local hardware store and wrap it around exposed pipes.. It is recommended that you start with pipes that are exposed to unheated spaces and insulate both cold and hot water pipes.
A precaution that can be taken when temperatures go way below freezing is to leave a faucet dripping throughout the evening which tends to be when the lowest outdoor temperature occurs. The preferred faucet should be the one closest to the outside wall of the home. This will keep the pipes flowing, essentially keeping them from freezing during a cold snap.
Finally, in order to avoid the stress that can occur from freezing pipes, open your under sink cabinets to expose those pipes to the heat resonating from inside the home. Although most people tend to turn the heat down a bit during the evening hours in winter, it is vitally important to your pipes to maintain a consistent temperature throughout your home both day and night. Always ensure that the temperature never goes below 55 degrees.
Maintaining your pipes can often be a painstaking task, but is better than the alternative of dealing with frozen pipes that can cause thousands of dollars of damage and months of repairs. In conclusion, as winter approaches and the temperatures drop, make sure your home is insulated and prepared for whatever this season throws at you.
Here's what you will need
Pipe Insulation - Common types are rubber and foam with foam (Polyethylene) being the preferred option due to its durability and resistance to mold.
Pipe wrap tape with PVC backing - Optional but recommended for extra assurance.
Outdoor spigot cover - A must.