We have had a couple cold snaps thus far but nothing cold enough and long enough to freeze most pipes that are not adequately protected. The damage that can be done by a burst pipe is huge and it can happen very quickly. Several hundred gallons of water can be released into your home if you are not there to immediately shut off the water. So first and foremost make sure you know where your main water supply shutoff valve is located. Along with finding it make sure it will work when needed. An old valve may be corroded inside and very difficult to turn when the time comes so best to find out now instead of when water is pouring into your home.
So how do you avoid a water problem from frozen pipes? The most common cause is not removing water hoses from outside faucets commonly referred to by plumbers as hose bibs. Even a freeze proof faucet will freeze and burst inside your wall if there is standing water in the hose. So to never have a problem remove those hoses when the watering season is over and if you have them, close the shutoff valve inside your house. If you don’t have a shutoff valve and it is going to be very frigid, you can buy and insulated cover to put on the faucet or just cover it with an old wool sock and small plastic bag. Usually people don’t realize a faucet froze and burst until they turn it to use it later in the spring. The water will gush into your wall or into your basement causing a big mess. Many times in block foundations this shows up as a wet wall or water seeping out at the base of the wall. It goes away after the faucet has been turned off for a while only to return when you use the faucet again. Best to prevent this by just removing the hoses every winter.
The other areas, especially in older homes that are vulnerable, are pipes in cabinets under sinks on outside walls, pipes in outside walls and in crawlspaces. The most economical way to prevent problems if you have access to the pipes is to insulate them with foam pipe insulation. Make sure you seal the joints between each piece. Any exposed piping is vulnerable. Another trick is leave the doors of a cabinet open so room air circulates warming the area more or even using a small heater. Usually the situation is one where the pipes are inside walls that are not well insulated. Short of cutting into the walls to apply better insulation about the only option is to leaving some faucets that are fed by those pipes slightly open to keep water continuously flowing. That can cost you money with a higher water bill but it is much less expensive than repairing water damage.
Prevention instead repairing in the case of anything dealing with water is always better and much cheaper. If you need some help insulating some pipes just let us know. We can send you a plumber or a handyman to address the issue. HomeServicesLink is here to help you with any home improvement or repair. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-271-1888.