by Becky Baker, Building Safety Division Director
comments open from February 20 until March 11
To prevent property damage, repair bills, and the inconvenience of bursting household pipes the following tips can help prepare for winter cold.
Before cold weather hits:
Know the location of your water shut-off switch and regularly test it. If the worst happens and a pipe breaks, you won't want to wait for someone to arrive at your home to find it for you. In most single-family dwellings, the shut-off valve is in the basement or crawlspace on a wall facing the street.
Turn off and drain automatic and manual sprinkler systems before first freeze. If not properly drained the freezing and thawing cycle can create cracks and weak spots in the sprinkler system, triggering silent underground leaks or mini-geysers.
Make sure the faucet and outside piping is fully drained. Turn off outdoor faucets and be sure to disconnect hoses. A valve inside many houses will shut off the water flow.
Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before. Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape, improper use can cause fires.
During a deep freeze (-5 degrees and below):
• Keep cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes open so that household air can warm them. The natural flow of warmer air will help combat problems.
• Keep attached garage doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed there, leaving it vulnerable to winter's worst.
• Crack a faucet farthest from the place where your water enters the house. A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Don't forget to place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.
• Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.