The heat is on; keep it on!
One important piece of advice for customers going away on vacation is to keep their heat on, even when they’re away on vacation. IBHS said that while lowering heat may help lower bills, it could have dire consequences if the temperature happens to drop while away on a winter escape. Be sure to keep the heat to no less than 55°F to ensure the inside temperature stays well above freezing. In fact, when it starts to get very cold, it may be a good idea to turn your heat up while at home.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to drain the entire system by turning off the main valve and allowing the pipes to drain before leaving, or even before an especially cold night. (Photo illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)
Let it drip
When it gets extremely cold out, it’s a good idea to allow a slow drip of water to come out of a home’s faucets. Wasting water is never good, but customers would likely waste far more water, time and money if their pipes froze and burst. IBHS said even the slowest, slightest drip (somewhere between hot and cold, so both spigots are in use) will provide the pipes with the pressure relief they need.
If the drip happens to stop due to a frozen pipe, customers should leave the faucet open to help with pressure relief. This will still be needed to prevent the pipes from bursting. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Some pipes are likely going to be in a worse spot than others. When the cold weather really starts creeping in, protecting these exposed pipes should be the first order of business. Paul Abrams, spokesman for Roto-Rooter, told HouseLogic that pipes in the most trouble are located in exterior walls, on the outside of the home or exposed pipes in un-heated areas.
People must take measures to ensure these pipes are taken care of well in advance of the freezing cold. Or, conversely, if it’s freezing now and pipes still haven’t been taken care of, their safety must be immediately prioritized. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
A little insulation goes a long way
As previously mentioned, insulation is very inexpensive and can help prevent catastrophes with regard to frozen pipes. Whether you’re purchasing foam insulation sleeves or simply using some tape to help keep pipes warm, this can be a great way to ensure no frozen pipes occur.
In a blog post on their website, Horizon Services suggested checking the pipes in un-heated or little used areas, even after they are insulated, to ensure they are doing well. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Mind where fat and oil goes
Outside of pipes freezing, one frequent problem that plumbers run into every winter (especially during the holidays) is people not knowing what to do with excess oil and fat. The inner chef comes out more during the winter due to the outdoors being less than enticing for dining expeditions, and much of that newly cooked-out oil and fat may end up down the drain.
Unfortunately, this is the last thing pipes need during the winter. Fat and oil put a large amount of strain on pipes, garbage disposal (for those who have one) and even drains, Horizon Services said. When cooking, always be sure to collect oil and fat into cans or jars and throw them in the garbage. Letting them end up in the drain could mean a big, unnecessary bill. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Bring those hoses indoors!
You may have forgotten about watering plants and the lawn, but that same trusty hose that helps you in July could mean death for your pipes in February. The American Red Cross website said to remove, drain and store these hoses inside, as leaving it out could be a direct line to allowing your pipes to freeze up. When bringing the hose inside, people also should be sure to drain and close the outdoor spigot, so as to not let old man winter get ahold of it. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
What if the pipes do freeze?
Even if pipes do freeze, that doesn’t have to mean that it’s the end of the world. There’s always time to save it from bursting. Some things that can be done to help the situation include:
Turning off the water at the main valve so there are no additional problems created.
Use a blow dryer, space heater or similar device to thaw the pipes; Horizon Services, who likely has some experience in this vein, notes what may seem obvious: don’t use a torch or flame to try and thaw out your pipes.
Wrap the frozen pipe with a heating pad.
Turn up the temperature inside.
If all else fails… contact a plumbing contractor who has dealt with hundreds of these situations. It could be the thing that saves pipes from sure destruction. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)