Sound Advice – Frozen Pipes
Prevent Frozen Pipes
Water damage from burst frozen pipes is a major concern for Long Island homeowners. If there are pipes located against an outside wall, in an uninsulated area of the basement, crawl space or attic, this needs your immediate attention. If you have an outside faucet, this can also be a problem area. Here are few preventive steps you can take.
Turn Up The Thermostat
Keep your thermostat set at a minimum of 55 degrees, even during extended periods of absence.
Install More Insulation
Take a ride to the nearest hardware or home improvement store and pick up a package or two of unfaced fiberglass insulation. While you’re there, get a set of heavy duty disposable coveralls, a dust mask, work gloves and a package of fresh utility knife blades. Don the protective work wear, load the fresh blades in the knife and assess your insulation needs in the attic, crawl space or other out-of-the-way place installing insulation over poorly-protected pipes. This is one scenario where neatness doesn’t count, just get the insulation where it needs to go.
Use Foam Board To Insulate Large Areas
Got a really big area to protect? Keep the heat in with a rough-and-ready barrier built with foam board. Faced or unfaced foam board will work, especially if this is a temporary set up. If your kitchen sink is on an outside wall, especially a north-facing wall, affix foam board to the wall behind the pipes.
Install Heating Cables
Install a heat trace cable to keep a cold pipe from freezing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging for how to do this. Some heat tapes are wrapped around the pipe, others simply run along it. If you can’t find heat trace cable at your local hardware store, try an electrical supply house.
Use A Space Heater
You can keep unprotected pipes above freezing by simply placing an electric heater near them. Remember, the goal is not to make the space toasty warm and comfortable. It’s to keep the water in the pipe above freezing. The popular infra-red space heaters are the safest and use less electricity. Look for a model with a thermostat so it will only run when the area gets below 50 degrees.
Turn Off The Water
In the worst case, turn off the main water valve while the house is unoccupied or while you sleep. If a pipe freezes and breaks, the spillage is limited only to the water in the pipe. If an area of limited use like a laundry room remains colder than other parts of the house, have a plumber install shut off valves in the water supply to just that area.
Open Cabinet Doors
It’s not unusual for plumbing running to a kitchen sink on an exterior wall to be extremely vulnerable because the wall is not sufficiently insulated. Open the cabinet doors along that wall to project heat into the space. Place an electric heater in front of the cabinets for an extra measure of cold protection.
Turn Off Water To Outside Spigots
Disconnect all outdoor hoses and turn off all water to exterior sources, including spigots and sprinkler systems. Be sure to completely remove any water from hoses and sprinklers. This should be done before winter, but do it now if you haven’t already. You can protect the faucet itself from damage with a foam spigot cover available at local hardware stores.
IMPORTANT: Know where all your water shut-offs are located in case you need to use them!