Posted By RichC on February 4, 2007
Colder weather has settled around much of the mid-west this past week as were in the single digits in and around Cincinnati. Thankfully we are only dealing with what is expected — winter, other are not as fortunate; my heart goes out to those dealing with the severe storms, the destruction and deaths in central Florida. (video of damage)
My son Taylor took an opportunity to play on the ice out in front of the house while my daughter reported that the pipes in her apartment (Northeast Ohio) froze. As she pondered who’s house she would be showering at, I suggested she use this as an early lesson in eventual home ownership.
Here are some simple hints for those facing their first blast frigid weather on their own: Check you water pipe runs as best you can to see if there are areas that you can add insulation or keep the really cold weather from getting to them. Garages and outside walls are notorious as areas that often have pipes and will freeze when the temperatures are in the single digits; leaving garage doors open in these areas is a ‘no-no’ when it is really cold, as is turning the heat down in rooms with outside walls, especially those exterior walls exposed to wind. If the house is brand new, many times the insulation on outside walls is not enough to prevent frozen pipes on really cold days and it need to be corrected. If you own your home definitely add some additional insulation even if you have to open a wall cavity; if you rent you might need to allow a faucet or two cracked to keep water flowing, especially on really cold nights. I’m hesitant to recommend this as a solution as 1) its a waste of water and 2) it can get expensive if done often, and 3) someday you’ll probably forget will find yourself with a leak and significant water damage.
Once your pipes have frozen, it important to find the area and heat the pipes. Hairdryers or space heaters work well, but avoid the propane torch method since you might not be the first person to start a fire. Another even higher risk is that of a leak and eventual flood. As water freezes, it expands and can easily crack a union, pvc/copper pipe or a valve. If you are lucky enough to catch the frozen pipe situation in time, it is important to address the problem early and get heat to the rooms, wall, area or pipe that is at risk. Add some insulation or change the heating flow … and at minimum keep the water dripping when temperatures go below 10 or 15 degrees.