Some inexpensive tips to do when the weather becomes very cold.
#1 Foam Insulation – Easy to find and use, this flexible foam tube wraps around almost any pipe. Just make sure to buy the right size tube for the pipe you are trying to insulate.
#2 Window and Door Seals – Burning incense and tracking the smoke’s path is a simple trick to find cold air drafts in your home. If you locate any drafts, apply door sweeps and weather stripping where possible. When weather stripping is not appropriate, caulk or an outdoor grade foam sealant will be effective at fighting the cold. Also keep garage doors closed to keep the cold away from water supply lines.
#3 Attics and Basements – These are two of the biggest offenders when it comes to fighting drafts that can freeze pipes. Your attic should have at least 12” of insulation between rafters to keep the cold out and the heat in. In your basement, any pipes near outside walls should have insulated wrap.
#4 Outside Faucets – Unless you have a frost-proof faucet outside your home, you’ll want to turn off the water leading to your traditional metal faucet and open the tap to drain any water left in the pipe. This will prevent it from freezing and causing damage.
#5 Heat Tape –Pipes that have frozen in the past or are particularly prone to freezing can be wrapped in electrical heat tape that is thermostatically controlled to prevent freezing.
It is important to remember to follow all manufacturers’ instructions when using any of these products. Some simple additional steps you can take to prevent freezing are to open any cabinets, keeping any harmful cleaners or chemicals away from children, to allow warm air in. The second is to run a trickle of water from the taps at the highest and lowest points of your home. Remember to check under the sink to see if your hot and cold water have separate pipes, if so you must run a cold and hot trickle just be safe. Lastly, keep your thermostat at a constant to avoid any temperature dips in the evening when pipes could be at their coldest point. We recommend holding steady at 65 degrees especially if you will be travelling away from the home. A slightly higher heating bill is always cheaper than a burst pipe.
In the unfortunate event your pipes have frozen, turn on the taps, try to warm the affected area with a hair dryer, and call for service. If the worst should happen and your pipe has burst, immediately shut off the water at the source. It is also a good idea to make sure everyone in your household knows where the on/off valve is located beforehand.