Prevent Burst Pipes
A careful homeowner knows that certain risks to your property will never entirely go away. One of these is the danger of burst pipes, which can also cause flooding, property loss, mold, and mildew as well as damage to the structural integrity of your home.
Even if your home is in perfect condition, it is still at risk of burst pipes during freezing or rapidly fluctuating temperatures. Both plastic and metal pipes are susceptible to cold weather, so you can never eliminate the danger entirely. If you have loss of water pressure or if you turn on the faucet and nothing comes out, that most likely means that your pipes are freezing and may burst.
The good news though is that there are ways for you to manage the risk of your pipes ever freezing in the first place. The most basic perhaps is this: Don’t wait until it’s winter! Protection against burst pipes should start from Day One as part of your regular home maintenance plan. Then, make sure to take some special steps during the winter months when your home is most vulnerable to frozen and burst pipes. Other things you can do include:
1. Insulate everything.
After you insulate, you won’t have to think about it again and it will keep working for you. Start with professional-grade insulation from the basement to attic and in your garage, if it is attached to the house. But don’t stop there. Basic insulation is not adequate for pipes. Seal any possible air leaks around pipes, electrical cables, and vents. Next, provide additional insulation to exposed pipes, especially those near exterior walls. Consider using heat tape for extra protection.
2. Install a sensor.
Put your smart-phone to work for you! New water-flow sensors are smart-home compatible and can even send you warnings if something goes wrong. Sensors can actually help you save money all year round by alerting you to any major changes in your water usage (such as leaks).
The best part is, when you buy and install a water-flow sensor, you may be eligible for a rebate on the purchase, or even a reduction in insurance costs.
3. Keep your house at a warm, even temperature.
Don’t be tempted to turn the heat off at night or when you’re away at work during the day, because this puts additional strain on water pipes.
4. Leave open any cabinet doors that hide uninsulated pipes.
This is especially helpful for those pipes on exterior walls. This will help the heating reach these pipes and maintain an even temperature.
5. Shut off water to exterior pipes.
Don’t forget to detach any fixture (such as a hose or sprinkler system) that might block exterior pipes. Remember to winterize sprinkler systems as well. This will also help prevent any water issues in the spring.
6. Let the faucet drip.
Wait—aren’t you trying to prevent water from coming out of your pipes?! Letting water drip – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing as this allows you to control and reduce the pressure which is a result of freezing temperatures. You only need to employ this measure if you’re seriously concerned about your pipes freezing.
7. Make sure that you and everyone in your household knows where the main water shut-off valve is.
If you go out of town, make sure your neighbor or housesitter has this info, too. Then, if your pipes do freeze and burst, you can limit possible flooding damage and property loss by cutting off the water supply.
Remember, burst pipes are one of the most commonly reported household accidents, and the results are worse (and more expensive) than simply replacing a pipe or two and paying for insulation. If you follow these seven steps, you’re reducing your risk and helping to keep your home intact.