Preventing frozen pipes: tips from the experts


Depositphotos_9251576_xsIn frigid weather, the the common wood frog adapts by literally putting itself into a deep freeze. In a miracle of biology, these adaptive frogs freeze solid and their hearts stop, but they come back to life with the spring thaw.

While frozen frogs are pretty amazing, frozen pipes are anything but. If you turn on your faucet in the winter and nothing comes out, there’s a good chance you may have frozen pipes, particularly if the weather has been very cold. Frozen pipes can be a costly claim on your homeowners policy, but a few annual maintenance steps can help prevent problems. Even if you didn’t prepare well before the winter and now find yourself in frigid weather pattern, there are steps you can take to protect your pipes. The Red Cross offers excellent tips for preventing frozen pipes as well as tips for how to thaw pipes out should they freeze. Here are a few of their tips during cold weather:

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

FEMA also has some excellent tips for before, during and after winter storms and extreme cold.

In a short video clip, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey shows various ways to prevent and thaw frozen pipes.

Here are some other video clips from This Old House that will help you keep your water pipes in good condition and prevent problems.

How to Drain Pipes for the Winter
How to Install a Frost-Proof Faucet with PEX Piping

Before and after winter storms: advance planning and filing claims


With a major ice storm under our belt, many area residents are just getting power and heat back and we are facing more potential adverse weather over the weekend.

If your home has been damaged or destroyed, you may want to invest two and a half minutes to watch the Insurance Information Institute’s advice on how to file a homeowner’s claim:

Preparing for the next storm
With some advance notice, there are things you can do to prepare for winter storm emergencies. Here are a few good resources:

The American Red Cross suggests a list of supplies to include in a home emergency kit, covering such items as water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items.

Winter Power Outage Tips – an excellent resource on what to do before, during, and after an outage compiled by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Freezing & Bursting Pipes (PDF) – good tips for preventing frozen pipes.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After an Emergency – The Centers for Disease Control inform us that every year, more than 500 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning and, sadly, here in New England, we have had carbon monoxide-related deaths after the recent storms. In Massachusetts, the law states that you must have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, excluding unfinished basements, attics and crawl spaces. You may need more than one per floor because detectors must be placed within 10 feet of a bedroom door. This is good advice for homeowners whether or not your state has a law. Be sure to refresh your batteries periodically.