The water company and local fire departments are reminding us on how to prepare with the first hard freeze of the season.
Here are ideas for protecting your pipes:
• Disconnect garden hoses from your home. If you have an irrigation system, make sure it is turned off and drained.
• Search your house for uninsulated water pipes, especially in unheated areas. Check attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls. Consider wrapping pipes with insulation sleeves. Newspaper or fabric can also be used.
• Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations with caulking to keep cold air away from pipes.
Once cold weather arrives, follow these tips:
• Set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees if you’re going out of town. Although you may be able to get away with a lower temperature, this setting is safe for pipes.
• When below-freezing temperatures occur, keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets supplied by pipes that run through unheated or unprotected spaces. This will help prevent the water in pipes from freezing.
• Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate
around the pipes.
• Make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is located inside your home so that you can shut off your water quickly in the event of a water pipe leak. This valve is often located in a utility room, closet or in the basement or crawlspace. This is important to know in a non-emergency situation as well, like making a repair on a small leak on a toilet or sink.
And don’t forget your chimney if you use one in cold weather.
— trim branches that overhang the chimney outside and clear roof debris
— put a screen cap over the chimney
— on the inside, monitor the temperature of the chimney flue (the part from the fire to the top) and be sure to keep the air inlets open
— make sure you have a fire screen to keep embers from popping out of the fire and into your home
And, finally, if your pipes do end up freezing, here is what to do about it:
• Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw pipes without first turning off the main shut-off valve.
• Thaw pipes with warm air. You can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming air around it with a hair dryer or space heater. Be sure not to leave the space heater unattended and avoid the use of kerosene or open flames.
• Be careful turning the water back on. Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check pipes and joints for cracks or leaks.