A few simple steps can help prepare your home plumbing for the bitter cold temperatures recent storms have brought. During cold weather, water pipes need special care to keep from freezing, so homeowners should take reasonable precautions to help protect their property from damage. Weatherproofing a home against the cold will help protect plumbing against the threat of breaks.
Act now by:
* Knowing what areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
* Eliminating sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
* Knowing where your main water shutoff valve is. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
* Protecting your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
If temperatures fall below zero:
* If you have pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low (about a penny per gallon) compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
* Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures and to help keep them from freezing.
If your pipes freeze:
* Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
* Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it. Be sure to avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
* Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
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