As temperatures drop, your plumbing can take a hit. Frozen pipes can burst, which can mean a lot of damage if the property is empty. Keeping water flowing can help, as can more insulation.
Boost Insulation Around Pipes
Make sure the space around the pipes as they come into the house is full of insulation. This may mean spray insulation. Before you spray in any insulation, carefully review the label of the product as some sprays can put iron plumbing at risk of corrosion. If you have old iron pipe drains and you need to add spray insulation, consider hitting the pipes with a squirt of rust preventing spray paint or wrapping them in woven tape, such as gaffer’s tape.
Insulate the Pipes Directly
In addition to insulating around water lines, consider the option to insulate pipes directly with heat tape. Wrap the copper pipes coming off the water heater to avoid the amount of gas it takes to warm up water for dishes or a bath, then use heat tape under the house to keep the water flowing through the pipes in the crawlspace. These should be installed by a professional, such as 58 Foundations.
Drain Exterior Water Lines
Make sure that your hoses get disconnected each fall and that your outside water lines get drained. This includes targeting water that is run to
- Sprinkler lines
Even if it doesn’t directly damage your home, a broken water line in a sprinkler system can do a lot of damage to your yard. This freezing water can also create voids under your driveway, foundation, or outbuildings that won’t show up until the ice melts and the soil collapses. A pool that is allowed to freeze, even just in the bottom, may fracture the concrete and become a slow leak that destroys landscaping and its own foundation.
Turn Up the Heat
Even an empty house needs some heat to keep things from freezing. If you can keep the heat on at least 60 degrees in an empty house, your risk of a hard freeze is minimal as will be the heating bill. Broken water pipes are much more expensive and destructive than keeping the heat on at this low level. If the kitchen backs up to an outside wall, open up the cabinets and consider adding a heat lamp to keep pipes warm enough to flow.
Let the Taps Drip
Leave the tap open just a bit to keep the water moving. Once it’s frozen inside the line, a sealed tap can lead to a busted water line. Water expands when it freezes. If you can leave the taps open, you may still have to deal with a cold house, but you should be able to prevent your pipes from breaking.
Broken pipes can cause unimaginable damage to a home. Prevention is easier than any other method of protecting your property. Be ready to pay for a bit more water than you need by letting the taps drip and keep the heat on at least low enough to prevent a pipe rupture.