The heart of the winter season means frigid weather in the Midwest, so it’s important to keep your home’s pipes from freezing when the temperature drops to avoid breaks, a huge mess and expense.
The pipes that are most likely to break in your home are as follows, according to the American Red Cross:
- Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
- Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
- Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
Ideally, you should take preventive measures before freezing temperatures set in, but some precautions can still be undertaken in winter; some while temperatures are above freezing and others even if it’s sub-freezing, adds the Red Cross.
- Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces.
- Insulate water pipes in unheated areas like the garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets with insulating sleeves or tape. Even newspaper can insulate areas that doesn't experience prolonged freezing.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors for warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, removing household cleaners from children’s reach.
- When the temperature dips below freezing, let cold water trickle from the faucet where pipes are exposed.
- If you will be going away for more than a few hour, don’t set your thermostat below 55 degrees.
If your pipes do freeze, the Red Cross recommends the following to thaw them:
- Keep the faucet open. Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, or use an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- If you can’t thaw the pipe call a licensed plumber.
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