Monday, December 28, 2009
When the temperature outside drops below 20 degrees and the wind begins to blow, uninsulated water lines and drain pipes are likely to freeze. A few simple steps can help you avoid a problem before it happens.
Step 1: Pipes in exterior walls, crawl spaces and attics are most vulnerable during the winter months. A quick analysis of your plumbing will identify problem areas. Pay special attention to laundry facilities located in garages or on back porches and sinks, toilets or showers situated along exterior walls.
Step 2: Use caulk, spray foam insulation, caulk cord or other insulating materials to fill any cracks, crevices or holes in the exterior of your home near bath areas, kitchens and laundry rooms. Fill in holes where cable, telephone wire or other materials enter or exit your home.
Step 3: Run electric heating cables along any lengths of exposed pipe in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, garages or back porches. Make sure the cable runs the full length of the pipe. Most electric heating cables should not be wrapped around the pipe, but rather run in a straight line along the bottom of the pipe. Be sure to read all of the installation instructions before attaching any electrical device to the pipes.
Step 4: Wrap at-risk water and drain pipes with closed-cell foam and/or fiberglass pipe wrap insulation. Pipes with heat tapes attached should also be wrapped to reduce heat loss. When dealing with exposed water lines, the more insulation you apply, the better your chances are of avoiding frozen pipes.
Step 5: Disconnect garden hoses from outdoor spigots and cover the spigot with an insulating bonnet.
Step 6: On cold winter nights, leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate beneath sinks and appliances located on exterior walls.
Step 7: Dripping faucets waste water, but in particularly vulnerable areas, leaving both cold and hot water dripping will stop pipes from bursting if they do happen to freeze.