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Home Maintenance: Cold Weather Tips

February 4, 2011

Ever thought that you might need a couple of pointers because you just moved from Arizona, Southern California, or Florida and never owned a home where the snow flies and water freezes every January?

I had neighbors a few years ago that were from a south eastern US state where “freezing pipes” wasn’t a part of their vocabulary. On several occasions I’d find that they had left town in the middle of winter, and had left their hose attached to the house, with the water valve open,  full pressure on the hose, with only the nozzle on the end keeping the water at bay.

Well, I dutifully went over and shut off the water and disconnected the hose several times (after all, what are neighbors for?), but they still suffered the burden of hiring a plumber at least twice to repair broken pipes at those times when I somehow missed the opportunity to help them.

Ready to learn more about avoiding cold weather mishaps?  Here are a few homeowner tips and advice.

TIP #1:  Know where the main water shut-off is in your basement or crawl space is located!  In the event of a ruptured pipe, you may need to shut off the entire water supply to your home.  (A-PRO will always report and point this out to clients)

TIP #2:  Make sure the water shut-off valve is functional.  Many homeowners have had to replace these valves over time.  It’s a good practice to operate this valve 2-3 times per year to make sure if will turn off and back on when needed.  (if your valve has corroded and can’t be turned off, have it replaced immediately.  If the water needs to be shut off when the valve does not operate, then the only way to turn your water off is at the water meter or water main at the street)
TIP #3:  If there is an outside water faucet, make sure a hose is not connected.  (this is true even if the hose bib is a freeze resistant type)
TIP #4:  If going on vacation or leaving the home during long periods of freezing temperatures, turn your heating system to a minimum of 55 degrees F.  If the kitchen or bathrooms have plumbing on an outside wall or above an unheated garage, open the cabinet doors under the sinks.  (if possible, turn off the water to the washing machine.  This is not necessary due to cold weather but a good habit as rubber hoses have been known to rupture.  Better yet, replace the rubber hoses with the flexible stainless steel type)
TIP #5:  If your townhome is prone to freezing pipes, you might consider adding insulation or heat tape to the location(s) where the pipes generally freeze.  (if your crawl space is unheated and ventilated, consider insulating your water pipes or placing a heat source within it)
TIP #6:  If you experience a frozen pipe and have access to it, attempt to thaw it out with a blow dryer.  NEVER use an open flame or torch to thaw pipes.  If the location iis not known or if you just don’t know what to do, you should contact a licensed plumber or maintenance company for assistance.  If the pipe is ruptured, expect some form of a flood or mess when it thaws.
TIP #7:  Since a ruptured pipe may not be determined until it thaws, it is recommended you not leave your home until the pipe has thawed or had it thawed by a plumber or maintenance company.  (if you leave the home while the pipe is frozen and if has ruptured, and it thaws while you are gone, count on a huge water mess!)



Source: Jeff Lyons/Zachary Epps 02/2011


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