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How to Protect Your Pipes in Winter

Unfortunately, the winter is not quite over, so there are still things you need to do to protect your home. Covering our plants, keeping the heating on, and servicing your HVAC systems are all part of the cold months. In order to save money and be more efficient, it is suggested you set your heat to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but is it enough? Are you still taking care of your pipes?

Making sure pipes do not freeze and burst during the winter will save you a lot of hassle and money in the long run. Freezing and water damage accounts for about 22% of all homeowner insurance claims, which cost over $4,000 per claim on average. Even though there are great no dig sewer repair options nowadays, the better strategy is to be careful in the winter and do what you can to avoid having to make any repairs at all.

When it is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower outside, a pipe will likely freeze and break if it does not have a lot of insulation. Even a 18 inch crack can let out as much as 250 gallons of water a day. This can destroy your floors, furniture, appliances, and personal items in just one day.

With that in mind, here are a few ways you can protect your pipes during the winter:

  1. If you have a swimming pool or water sprinkler, they should be drained of water from the supply lines. Anti-freeze should never be put in the lines, unless the manufacturer’s instructions direct you to do so. Anti-freeze is environmentally dangerous, and can cause potential hazards to your family, your pets, and your landscaping.
  2. Ensure that all hoses are removed, drained, and stored properly outside. Inside valves that supply the outdoor hoses with water should be closed. The outside valves should be kept open, so that the water can drain and so that any remaining water will be able to expand if it freezes without causing damage to the pipe.
  3. Make sure that you look around the entire home for other water supply lines that might be in an unheated area. Lines in basements, attics, garages, cabinets and places like that will need to properly insulated. This applies to both hot and cold water pipes. Just because a pipe supplies hot water does not mean that the cold won’t affect it. If the outside of the hot water pipe freezes, the extreme temperatures can cause damage to the pipe.
  4. Pipe sleeves, heat tape, and other similar products can insulate water pipes. If you do not want to install the specific products made to do that, newspaper can work, although not as well and for not as long. However, it is better than nothing.
  5. If you are using some sort of adhesive like epoxy to stop up small holes and leaks in the drains or pipes, you should consider a different method before it gets too cold. Epoxy can crystallize if it gets too cold, and will not be at its highest strength during the cold weather. Although epoxy is waterproof and can cure underwater, it does better in average temperatures rather than extreme cold or extreme hot.

Keep these tips in mind if you are due for any cold fronts in the near future, as many parts of the country are. In a nine year space of time, winter storms resulted in about $28 billion of losses. The storms are no joke, and must be taken seriously. Damage from frozen and burst pipes can really take a toll on your house, as well as your wallet and insurance premiums. If you take the necessary precautions, you will be glad you did when summer comes around and you have nothing to repair or even pay for.

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