For anyone living in Michigan where temperatures regularly dip below freezing, a few precautionary steps to help protect your plumbing can be a cost-effective way to help avoid cleaning up after a burst pipe.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) says one frozen pipe that bursts may result in more than $5,000 worth of water-related damage.
Protect pipes before a freeze
Be sure to insulate all accessible pipes well before a cold snap. If you’re not sure what type of pipe insulation to use, ask at your local hardware store. The staff there should be able to help recommend insulation that is appropriate for your home and the temperatures likely to occur in your area.
Apply pipe insulation to water pipes in unheated areas of your home, such as the garage, or in areas where pipes are near exterior walls, such as under kitchen or bathroom sinks.
Using a sealant or caulk approved for exterior use, shore up cracks and holes on your home’s outside walls. (If you haven’t done this already, you may have to save it for next spring. Caulk typically needs to be applied in temperatures of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Act when temperatures drop
Listen on a regular basis to your daily weather report and be prepared to act when temperatures reaching freezing levels and take heed to other winter advisories.
During severe cold snaps, keep exterior doors to unheated spaces, such as garages, closed.
If kitchen or bathroom pipes are located near exterior walls, leave the cabinet doors open and use a fan to circulate the warmer air around the pipes.
Let taps slowly drip during extreme cold snaps to help prevent water from freezing and to relieve pressure if some water does freeze.
Consider installing a water leak alarm in areas where you might expect a problem, such as the basement. The alarm sounds when water is detected and can quickly alert you to a problem.
The security experts at Solucent can install water leak detection alarms to protect your property from flooding
How to check for frozen pipes (and thaw them)
To check on your pipes, the IBHS suggests turning on each faucet (both hot and cold). If there’s only a trickle of water or, even worse, there’s no water coming out at all, then you should suspect pipe has frozen. The source of the freeze is most likely near an exterior wall or where the main water supply enters your home, so leave the faucet on and use a blow dryer (never an open flame torch or other device) to help heat the pipe until there’s a steady flow of water.
Of course, if you can’t locate the frozen pipe or just aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, call a plumber, who may help with relocating certain pipes to help prevent a similar freeze in the future.
Source: Allstate Insurance