How To: Preventing Your Pipes From Freezing and Bursting

As the temperature begins to drop, staying warm may be your main focus, but as a homeowner there is a collection of things that need to be addressed in order to keep your household functioning, warm, and failure free. Frozen pipes, along with frozen pipes that burt, can be a costly expense that can arise during the coldest of months. When the water freezes, it expands, which can cause the pipe to burst- flooding your basement, damaging your drywall, and costing thousands of dollars in repairs. The average claim for damage from frozen pipes is $18,000.

The Insurance Information Institute says that 1 in 55 homeowners, or 250,000 homes, will file a claim for property damage due to water or burst pipes each year. To avoid being one of those 250,000 here are some steps that you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing:

Temporary Solutions:
-Turn the heat up
-Set up fans to blow heat into colder rooms
-Open cabinet and vanity doors to allow the heat to reach pipes under sinks
-Leave closet or cabinet doors open where there are exposed pipes to keep them warm
-Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets
-Keep the garage door closed
-If you experience reduced water flow, heat the pipes nearest exterior walls (usually the ones that freeze first) with a hair dryer. Keep the sink running, and as the ice melts, the water flow will increase

1. Wrap and Insulate Pipes and Plumbing
As a long-term solution, you can invest in insulation that will thoroughly insulate pipes with thick fiberglass insulation. It is best to hire a plumber for this job. As a more temporary fix, you can purchase inexpensive foam pipe covers from your local hardware store that will cover and insulate the pipes.

2. Leave The Water Running
Leaving a faucet running during a cold spell can reduce the amount of pressure built-up in the pipes and prevent it from tearing on the inside. Even with a small blockage of ice inside of the plumbing, an open tap can reduce the pressure between the block and the faucet, preventing further damage. If you have a hot and cold tap, leave them both running, a small stream of water is all that is necessary.

3. Shut The Water Off
If you are experiencing reduced water pressure, or no water at all, it is best to shut the water off at your house, and confirm that there is a frozen pipe. Although you may believe that your pipes are properly insulated and that they are not frozen, and they very well may not be, it is best to play it safe, rather than risk thousands of dollars in damage. If a pipe happens to burst while it is frozen, your house can flood and ruin drywall, flooring, etc. If you plan on traveling or being away from your home from an extended period of time, shutting off your water is a good idea, as well.



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