Middle Tennessee has experienced a mild winter so far, but as temperatures drop below freezing this week, it's always a good idea to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to protecting your home from frozen water pipes, which can lead to busted water pipes if not handled correctly. Here are a few things to remember to protect your home.
Obviously exposed pipes are the most vulnerable, so do an exterior, crawl space, basement, and attic check to see if you find any exposed pipes. If so, attaching insulated sleeves to these pipes, which can be found at any hardware store, is a great start to protect your home. Also check to see if there are any cracks or holes that might have been made for cable or other hookups over the years. Seal any of these openings after you've added extra insulation.
While you're outside, you should unhook, drain, and put away any hoses. Irrigation systems are also at risk for damage, and there are several things you can do to prevent a big mess in your yard. This link contains great information and a downloadable PDF with very detailed instructions if you want to do it yourself, or you can call a professional to show you how.
Inside, the biggest concern should be those faucets that face an outside wall, especially an outside northern wall, as those usually receive the biggest blasts of cold air. For many, that is usually the kitchen sink. On those subfreezing nights, open the cabinet doors so the heat from your home will circulate around those pipes. Also, keep the faucet on a slow drip. This method doesn't keep the pipes from freezing, but it does release the pressure, which is what actually causes pipes to burst.
If you turn on your water the next morning and the flow is slow or stops, you have a frozen pipe and you need to call the plumber before you have a mess on your hands. His service fee is much cheaper than his service fee plus water damage. If a pipe should burst, quickly turn off the main water supply to your home and leave faucets open until the repair has been made.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, use caution when trying to warm up your pipes. Never use an open flame! Hair dryers and heating pads applied to the pipes can help, but use caution with your electrical sources around water.
Using preventative measures during the freezing cold days ahead can save you a lot of money and headaches. Your homeowners insurance or warranty may cover most of the costs of a busted pipe, but they will not cover the huge inconvenience of cleaning up the mess and possibly being displaced from your home.
Stay warm, my friends!