When the mercury pushes below zero nothing is worse than having an emergency plumbing or heating situation. If your pipes burst that could be a major disaster, and of course every plumber in town is going to be booked solid! But Travelers Insurance has some simple steps you can take right now to prevent an expensive catastrophy.
Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future. Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.
Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. If too much heat escapes through the attic it can cause snow or ice to melt on the roof. The water re-freezes causing more snow and ice to build up. This can result in a collapsed roof, and can contribute to ice damming. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.
Keep the house warm and check heating systems
The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves so keep the home warm to help avoid freezing pipes. The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and install a carbon monoxide detector.
Alternative heating source safety
In December and January, there is an increase in fire claims over the rest of the year. This is mostly due to fires caused by heating systems – such as furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, wood or pellet stoves. Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains or other objects that could easily catch fire.
Plan for being away
If you are planning to be away from your home for an extended period of time during this cold snap and haven’t drained the water system, consider contacting a professional to do so. This will help to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone you trust check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage. Activity at your home can also reduce the likelihood that it will be burglarized.