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Preventing Water Damage from Burst Pipes with Proper Winter Care
By Terry Allen
Water damage caused by burst frozen pipes can leave serious wreckage in your home that could require complicated and costly repair. Fortunately, you can prevent this kind of damage by following these winter care suggestions:
Insulate all water supply pipes as well as your attic and the sides of the water tank. The exposed pipes in crawlspaces and the attic are the most prone to freezing, so make sure to insulate them well. You can also wrap pipes with a heat tape, but just make sure to use quality products and follow all of the manufacturer's directions for use.
Inspect your home and make sure you know which areas have poor heating. Check plumbing fixtures such as valves and hoses regularly and perform routine maintenance work to ensure they are always in good condition.
When Outside Temperature Drops
When winter begins, you should maintain the temperature in your basement above 55 degrees Farenheit. If the pipes under your kitchen sink are not insulated, open the cabinet doors to let warm air in. Look for leaks around your home that allow cold air to enter inside close to where the pipes are located. Seal these leaks by caulking or insulating the area. This is important because, in severe cold weather, outside air can be cold enough to cause pipes to freeze even when it is entering the house through a tiny opening.
Before You Go
If you will be traveling, do not turn off the heating system but instead set it on a lower temperature and to activate twice a day. Most modern units will have this automatic power-on setting. If you will be away for quite some time, ask a reliable relative or friend to check up on your home to ensure the temperature inside stays at or above 55 degrees.
Before a Frozen Pipe Bursts
While pipes can crack or burst simply from age and normal use over time, one of the most common causes of domestic water damage in the winter is frozen pipes. You should treat frozen water supply pipes as an urgent matter because this can cause your pipes to burst and water to come spewing from the cracks the moment the ice thaws. To prevent frozen pipes from bursting, follow the tips below as soon as you discover the problem:
- Turn off the main water supply valve, including the valve in your cold water tank, if you have one. Leave water taps turned on.
- Prevent possible water damage by protecting the structures and objects that could be affected if the frozen pipe bursts. For example, remove any rugs in the room or take furniture or other belongings to a safe room.
- Thaw out the frozen pipe by opening the tap closest to it so that the water can be released through when the ice has melted. You can also use a hot water bottle or a blow-dryer to thaw a frozen pipe, starting at the pipe closest to the faucet and moving towards the coldest part. Just be careful when using the hairdryer and never use it in standing water. Likewise, do not use any device with an open flame such as a blow torch for this task.
When burst pipes do happen, a professional restoration company is your best bet to keep damages at bay. Inform the company at once that it is an incident of a burst pipe and request a plumber to repair the pipes.
Burst Pipes and Water Damage: Common Winter Woes
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