Temperatures have been unusually low across the country this winter. So homeowners should be especially conscious of their pipes this winter to prevent their pipes from freezing and avoid the resulting plumbing consequences.
Frozen pipes can burst and cause catastrophic damage to a home’s plumbing system. Unfortunately, homeowners often make simple mistakes that result in frozen pipes. By avoiding the following six mistakes, you can avoid frozen pipes in your home this winter, even as the temperatures plunge to record lows outside.
Turning Off the Heat
A lot of homeowners are tempted to turn off the heat when they go on overnight trips to save energy. However, pipes are likely to freeze when the heat is turned off if the temperatures outside are very low. You can turn the heat down, but don’t turn it completely off when you go away. Leave it on so it keeps plumbing fixtures and pipes at a temperature above freezing until you return.
Leaving Windows Open
Homeowners occasionally leave a window open a crack in a room to promote air movement and to freshen the air. But leaving the windows open is a problem when the temperature gets very low because a pipe could be located behind a wall near an open window, making the pipe likely to freeze as cold air from the outside surrounds it.
Failing to Apply Insulation
Failure to insulate your pipes can lead to them freezing. Luckily, you can easily insulate your pipes with foam tape that’s specifically designed to wrap around them and keep the water inside warm. Insulation tape is sold at hardware stores in the plumbing section. You can cut it to fit a length of pipe and then wrap it around the pipe. This insulation tape is often self-adhesive and very convenient to apply.
Leaving Holes or Cracks around Pipes
If you know that you have some gaps or holes around your windows or at other parts in your walls, you need to have them repaired before temperatures get too low. Holes or cracks could be located near pipes and could cause these pipes to become frozen. You can often quickly and conveniently deal with gaps or fissures around windows with weatherstripping or caulking.
Failing to Disconnect Outdoor Hoses
If you leave an outdoor hose connected after the temperatures have dropped, standing water could freeze up throughout the hose, which could allow water to freeze all the way up to the spigot and even inside the home in interior pipes.
You should detach both outdoor hoses and ideally, insulate the spigot to prevent frozen water within pipes on your home’s exterior from extending into your interior pipes and creating plumbing issues.
Leaving Outside Vents Open
You may have vents in some parts of your home, like your crawlspace and attic, that facilitate air circulation. However, these vents should remain closed during a very cold winter to prevent exterior air from penetrating your home and bringing down your interior temperatures so that pipes freeze.
Exterior vents can be important for interior air quality and moisture control during warmer months of the year. However, they are not as necessary during the winter months. Vents circulate the air and dry up excessive moisture in the summer that could allow mildew and rot to take root. The air becomes dryer during the winter and mold and mildew growth are therefore less likely despite less air circulation.
If you have a plumbing emergency, you need a convenient and responsive service to rely on to get you the help you need in a hurry. Contact HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric this winter if you experience frozen pipes or any other type of plumbing malfunction.