Protect Your Home From the Extreme Cold
January 29, 2019
Many parts of the U.S. have been struck with a snap of subzero temperatures. While keeping themselves warm during the bitter cold, homeowners also need to take precautions to keep their home safe, too.
In Wisconsin's capital, the Madison Water Utility posted a photo on Twitter to show homeowners how a burst pipe can damage a home. The photo was taken at a vacant home in Madison. “They shut the heat off, so then the water burst up in the top level, maybe a toilet or a bathtub, and it obviously just kept leaking and leaking and leaking,” Matt Grauvogl, Madison’s Water Utility Field supervisor, said about the photo to WKOW.com.
— Madison Water (@MadWaterUtility) January 25, 2019
Here are a few tips from the experts to protect a home from the extreme cold:
Open cabinet doors. This may seem unusual, but HouseLogic, a home maintenance and remodeling website operated by the National Association of REALTORS®, suggests opening any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom during cold weather. “This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing,” the site notes. “While this won’t help much in pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.”
Insulate. Keep drapes and blinds closed except when windows are in direct sunlight. Also, cover window air conditioners and insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals, which are available at home centers. Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to help circulate more warm air, recommends “Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford.”
Turn the faucets on inside. Turn the faucets on occasionally to keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. Aim for about five drips per minute, suggests HouseLogic.
Change filters on heaters. A heater needs to be checked annually to help prevent issues later on. But until you can schedule a checkup, change your filters, especially if you haven’t done so in a while. A clogged filter can prevent heat from getting into the home. “It’s no different than our vehicles that require preventative maintenance,” Steve Kistner, general manager at Kalins Indoor Comfort, told KTIV.com. “Our heating and cooling systems need the exact same things so they can work when we all count on them in this extreme cold. Eighty to 90 percent of the calls we go on right now are maintenance-related.”
Check outdoor connections. Make sure any outdoor spigots on all hoses have been disconnected and the spigots have been turned off and drained, advises the Madison Water Utility.
Shut off water immediately if pipes are frozen. If your pipes are already frozen, turn off the water immediately. Close off any external water sources, such as garden hose hookups. “This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes—the worst-case scenario,” HouseLogic.com notes. “This will also help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system—and thus, your home.”
Read more tips on what to do to keep the pipes in your home from bursting at HouseLogic.com.
“How to Protect Your Home During Extreme Cold Weather,” Today’s Homeowner With Danny Lipford and “5 Tricks to Keep your Pipes From Exploding This Winter,” HouseLogic.com
Updated: April 21, 2021