Here in Monroe, NC, we don’t see many frigid winter days. But just because it doesn’t dip below freezing for very long here in the winter, it doesn’t mean your home’s pipes can’t freeze and burst, anyway. That’s because several factors besides low temperatures can leave your pipes vulnerable to bursting. There are some things you can do to prevent it, though. Here are 8 of the simplest tactics you can use to prevent burst pipes in the winter.
1. Adjust Your Thermostat
The easiest way you can prevent burst pipes in your Monroe home in the winter is to adjust your home’s thermostat. What you need to do is make sure your thermostat is set to keep your home at a minimum of 55 degrees at all times. At that temperature, the ambient air temperature in your home should be high enough to prevent pipes running through your home’s walls and other conditioned spaces from freezing. You should also leave your thermostat set this way, even if you’re going to be away from home. After all, running your home’s heating system every now and then is far less expensive than cleaning up the damage from a burst pipe.
2. Open Under-Sink Cabinets
Even if you keep your home at a minimum temperature all winter long, it may not be enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, especially if it gets extremely cold outside. On very cold days, you should open up any under-sink cabinets in your home., too. This allows warmer air to reach your home’s water supply pipes, where it can more effectively prevent freezing. You can leave the cabinets open as often and for as long as you’re comfortable doing it. However, you should definitely do this when the outside temperature is 25 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
3. Let Your Sinks Drip
Another thing you can do on very cold days is to turn a few of your sinks on just enough to allow a slow drip. Believe it or not, this tiny amount of water flowing through your pipes can make it much less likely that they’ll freeze. This helps because the incoming water should be slightly less cold than water that’s sitting trapped in your pipes. For best results, you should try and open the faucet that’s furthest away from your home’s incoming water supply.
There’s another benefit to letting a faucet or two drip. It can prevent your pipes from bursting even if they do freeze. It can act as a pressure relief valve that gives the air in your pipes somewhere to go in the event of freezing. That increases the odds that your pipes will remain undamaged after they thaw.
4. Install Pipe Insulation
Another way you can prevent burst pipes in the winter is to install insulation on any pipes that run through unheated spaces in your home. This can be in your attic, basement, or crawl spaces if you have any. The good news about doing this is the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive and simple to do. Pipe insulation comes in a variety of forms, but foam insulation is most common. In most cases, all you have to do is slip sections of insulation over an exposed pipe, peel its adhesive strip, and press the open ends together.
5. Install Heat Tape
In some cases, insulation alone might not be enough to prevent pipes from bursting. For example, if you have exposed pipes that run through anywhere that’s exposed to unchecked breezes coming from outside your home. This may be the case in crawl spaces or even in your home’s garage. In those situations, you may want to install heat tape instead of plain insulation.
Heat tape is like an electric heating pad you can wrap around your pipes. It comes with a thermostat that can turn the heat tape on when the temperature drops below a set level. This warms your pipes and the water passing through them enough to prevent freezing.
6. Insulate Your Exterior Walls
Although most homes feature insulation running throughout their exterior walls, it may not be sufficient to prevent your home’s pipes from freezing. If you notice that any of your home’s exterior walls feel cold to the touch on the inside during the winter, it could be a sign that you need better insulation. This is especially true for walls that have pipes running through them.
You can add insulation to your home’s exterior walls without doing much damage to them. The easiest way to do it is by using blown-in insulation. Installing it only requires a few holes cut into the top of each wall, where the insulation gets blown in through a hose. When the work’s done, patching the holes and painting is all you’d need to do to get them back in presentable condition.
7. Disconnect Hoses and Insulate Spigots
If your home has any outdoor spigots that you use with garden hoses, they can dramatically increase your risk of having a pipe burst. They represent a part of your home’s plumbing that’s directly exposed to the winter elements. As a result, they require some special treatment so they won’t cause any problems.
For starters, you should disconnect and drain your garden hoses. And, you should locate the indoor water shutoff valve for your home’s outside spigots. Most homes will have these, typically located just inside the wall where the pipe runs to the outside of your home. When you find it, turn it off and then open the spigot to let the water drain out. Afterward, you can install an insulating foam cover on the spigot to keep it safe from the cold. You can find them in your local hardware store.
8. Install Networked Temperature and Water Detectors
Lastly, you can use technology to your advantage in the fight against burst pipes. To do it, you can purchase and install some inexpensive networked temperature and water sensors. They connect to your home’s Wi-Fi and can help you keep tabs on conditions near any of your home’s vulnerable plumbing infrastructure. The temperature sensors can alert you to times when it’s getting dangerously cold near your pipes. And the water sensors can serve as a last line of defense to give you a chance to shut off the water if a pipe does burst despite your best efforts.
You can use any combination of the tips above to protect your Monroe home’s pipes from bursting this winter. However, you can also call the experts here at Healthy Home Heating & Air for more specific advice that’s tailored to your home. We’ve served homeowners in the area since 2009, providing quality plumbing services, HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance, and indoor air quality services. We’re Better Business Bureau Accredited with an A+ rating and hold top-rated status on HomeAdvisor.
If your Monroe home needs plumbing repairs or preventative maintenance, call our team at Healthy Home Heating & Air today.