November 20th, 2016 9:15 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
winter weather can cause plumbing pipes to freeze and possibly burst, causing
flooding and costly water damage to your home. Taking
preventive measures before winter sets in can reduce and eliminate the risk of
frozen pipes and other cold-weather threats.
Where the Trouble Lies
“Some pipes are more
prone to freezing than others because of their location in the home,” explains
Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter.
Pipes most at risk for
Exposed pipes in
unheated areas of the home.
Pipes located in
Any plumbing on the
exterior of the home.
frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually
burst an interior pipe. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands,
increasing pressure throughout the whole plumbing system. As part of your
regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be
disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you don’t have
frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet,
open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. They cost only a
couple bucks and are worth every penny. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need
winterizing, too, to prevent damage.
pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a
heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing.
foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climes,
opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape (from
$50 to $200, depending on length), which will turn on at certain minimum temps.
pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs
include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of
inadequate or improperly installed insulation. It might well be worth the couple
hundred dollars it costs to open up the wall and beef up the insulation.
“When nothing else
works, say for a northern wall in a really cold climate, the last resort is to
reroute a pipe,” notes Abrams. Depending on how far the pipe needs to be moved
— and how much damage is caused in the process — this preventative measure
costs anywhere from $700 on up. Of course, putting the room back together is
Heading South for the
For folks leaving
their houses for an extended period of time in winter, additional preventative
measures must be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
Make sure the furnace
is set no lower than 55 degrees.
Shut off the main
water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the
extreme situations (vacation home in a bitterly cold climate), Abrams
recommends having a plumber come to inspect the system, drain the hot water heater, and perhaps
replace the water in traps and drains with nontoxic antifreeze.
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