Friday, January 8, 2010

Middle Tennessee Freezedown: Protect your home’s pipes and your wallet

Here in Franklin TN, we may not get as much snow as, say, Buffalo, but it does get pretty cold!  Cool Springs has been more like Cold Springs (okay, lame joke!).  Every winter season, the pipes in your home are at risk of damage from freezing conditions. This can happen here in Franklin TN too! Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The following tips can help you safeguard your home before, during, and after a pipe freezes.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

· Disconnect all gardening hoses.
· Most outside faucets have an interior shut of valve. Close this line at the shutoff valve.
· Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher, even if you're leaving the house for an extended period of time.
· Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
· Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
· Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
· Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to
freeze more frequently.
· Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
· Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
· If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time during the winter months, shut off the main water supply valve. Then open up the faucets and allow the water in the lines to drain out.

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

· Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
· The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
· Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
· Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
· Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes. 

If a Pipe Freezes

· If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
· To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
· When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out. 

If a Pipe Bursts

You don't want to see this! · Shut off water at the main valve. (Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shut-off valve is and how to open and close it.)
· If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
· Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.
· Call your insurance company’s claims office.