As the temperature drops, cautionary steps must be taken in order to protect your home’s pipe system.

Cold weather and dry air can cause pipes to freeze over, which can lead to cracks and bursting.

Take the following steps to properly prepare your home for winter.

Protect Your Pipes

Pipe insulators are long, tubular pieces of foam that snugly fit over your pipes. Designed to retain heat in the pipe and protect it from cold moving air, they are a great investment for homeowners. Insulators can be found at virtually any hardware or home improvement store and are relatively inexpensive.

If you own a garden hose, it is important to remove it from the spout before the temperature drops. Water within the tubing of the hose can freeze and travel back into your home, subsequently freezing your pipes.

If you leave for a period of time, do not turn off your heat. This is tempting to do in order to save money on gas costs; however, the money you save is not equivalent to what you will have to pay to fix burst pipes due to cold temperatures.

Retain a minimum temperature of 50 degrees in order to ensure the right environment for pipes. Technology such as low temperature monitors can be installed in basements, bathrooms and kitchens to alert you when pipes may be in danger of freezing. Proactive solutions such as this are great ways to save you money and future headaches.

What to Do If Pipes Freeze

If your pipes freeze, shut off all faucets in the household. If possible, check the area of the pipe that is frozen to see if any cracks or splitting has occurred. If you detect a possible fracture or are unable to find the problem, call a plumber immediately. Once the pipe thaws, a punctured pipe will cause leaks and flooding will ensue.

It is possible that this scenario can occur without you realizing. As a best practice, install flood sensors in your basement, crawl space or any other area with exposed piping. Flood sensors will alert you of flooding when water has reached a specific level.

However, if you are confident that the pipes have not split, you can begin to defrost and thaw the pipe. To do so, use either a heat lamp (supervised, of course, to avoid any fire hazards) or a hair dryer. Keep towels handy to absorb any pipe sweating.

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