Here in Rhode Island, the temperatures are already dropping, which is Mother Nature’s not-so-friendly reminder that winter is quickly approaching. Now is the time to take the proper maintenance precautions in your home to avoid common winter weather disasters, such as frozen pipes.
Have you ever put a soda in the freezer and forgot you put it there, until it explodes? When water freezes inside a pipe, it can explode the same way, leaving quite a mess and potentially a lot of damage!
Pipes can burst when temperatures reach below freezing point (32 degrees Fahrenheit), especially when they are not adequately protected. If pipes are not properly protected via the structure’s insulation or by insulation on the pipe itself, extremely cold weather and tiny holes in the building can allow passing cold air to come into contact with the pipes, which can lead to freezing and bursting. It’s important to check the outside walls of your property, especially where television, cable or telephone lines enter. These lines can allow subfreezing air access to pipes. You should also be familiar with the size and composition (e.g. copper or PVC) of the pipes. These characteristics can have some impact on how fast ice forms.
Water freezes when the heat in the water comes in contact with subfreezing air. The best way to mitigate the problem is to slow or stop this transfer from happening. How do you do that? Simple. Don’t expose water pipes to subfreezing temperatures. Keep the pipes in heated spaces, out of attics, crawl spaces and susceptible outside walls. Also, during severely cold temperatures, letting a faucet drip will release the excessive pressure that builds up between the faucet and the ice blockage when/if freezing does occur.
If you plan to travel during the winter months, it’s important to watch how low you turn the thermostat dial. Lowering the heat too much may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if really cold conditions strike, bursting a pipe. Another solution is draining the water supply. If the forecast calls for a serious overnight freeze, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (hot and cold) until the water stops running. When the coast is clear, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full and working properly.
For additional freezing weather guidance, go to the disastersafety.org/freezing_weather. If you are curious about how your insurance coverage would apply in the event of a cold-weather disaster, give us a call at 401-723-8510 or visit us online.
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