We’ve been pretty lucky so far this season avoiding Mother Nature’s dreaded four letter word (hint – starts with an “S” and ends with a “W”), but we are certainly not out of the woods yet! Yes, the weather has been a bit more mild than normal, but until the Peter Cottontail starts hopping down the bunny trail, we must be prepared for the worst. This month let’s take a look at some simple tips to avoid frozen pipes.
“As always, avoiding potential problems is the less expensive fix and will not only save you money, but time and stress,” according to Bob Bellini, President of Varsity Home Services. “Be sure everyone in the household knows where the shutoff valve is in case of an emergency. But have no fear; Varsity is always there to give you a hand if things go south!”
Frozen pipes can have the potential for tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Construction shortcuts, improper insulation, and open crawl spaces are all frequent causes for freezing. When thawed in time, they often cause little or no damage, but pipes not caught in time will burst and cost a pretty penny to fix.
Insulate – A quick trip to the local hardware store may be in your future if you know of a trouble area that has frozen before. Foam insulation will not only prevent freezing, but should cut energy costs as well. At Varsity, we offer a few advanced solutions. “Heat Trace” is a thermostatically controlled wire attached to a pipe to keep it from freezing. Armour-flex insulation can be wrapped on pipes at low cost and is a final solution to reroute pipes out of cold areas.
Look for exposed pipes that could be suspiciously problematic. Many pipes run along the outside wall of your home, so be sure that the areas around them are insulated. Again, proper insulation throughout your dwelling increases energy efficiency and will save you money not only in relation to plumbing issues, but also heating and cooling year round.
Shut off Unused Lines – If your home has a shutoff for unused water lines during the colder months, take advantage of this and drain the line. This is common for sprinkler systems, so apply the same principal here. If you can’t shut down lines due to an outdated setup, it may be time to consider installing a shutoff valve.
Regulate and Circulate – Keeping your home at a steady or minimum temperature is a good habit to stick to all year long, especially in the winter. If you’re traveling during colder months, use that thermostat wisely and your pipes and pocketbook will appreciate it. Pipes will freeze if there is no heat running in the house and it will lead to bigger problems. Keeping cabinets open so heat can flow easily to pipes, is an additional helpful measure.
Keep it Flowing – It is more difficult for pipes to freeze if they have a regular flow going through them. Water, even if moving slowly, will prevent freezing. If you are fortunate enough to skip away to paradise while we are stuck here at home, ask a friend or family member (that isn’t too jealous, of course) to check things out and run the faucets for a bit.
If things do get out of hand, all Varsity vehicles are equipped with state of the art thawing machines and high BTU bullet heaters. Varsity’s large fleet can respond quickly to emergencies.