There are a number of steps homeowners can take now to prevent frigid temperatures from wreaking havoc on their homes and water pipes:
- Water frozen in pipes can cause increased strain at their weakest point, which can result in significant damage should the pipes burst. To prevent freezing:
- Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping.
- Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes.
- Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unprotected space. Or drain the water system if your home will be unoccupied during cold periods.
- Consider applying an additional moisture barrier along the eaves of the roof to prevent water intrusion.
- No heat sources should be installed in a non-air conditioned attic space – keeping your attic cool prevents the snow from melting and refreezing on your roof.
- Ensure that the floor of your attic is well insulated to prevent heat from escaping to the attic.
- Clearing heavy amounts of snow from your roof can also help – but caution is needed when doing this. If you are in doubt, call an expert to check and clear it for you. Flat roofs can be more susceptible to snow build-up than a peaked or angled roof.
- To prevent water from backing up during a thaw, keep snow from piling up around drains and down spouts.
- Remember that older shingles may crack and fail as a result of repeated freezing and thawing – this can lead to water coming in through your roof.
- Be sure to check flashing on your exterior walls where it may meet up with roofing to ensure it is sealed tight and not opening.
- Trim weak branches or trees that could fall on your home under the weight of a heavy snowfall.
- If you are away from your residence for more than three days, ensure that you have someone qualified to inspect your plumbing daily.
- Talk to your insurance broker/review your policy to ensure you have the right coverage for weather related damages.
In addition to protecting your water pipes in the winter, you may also consider making a few small changes to protect your home against the high winds and rain that come with hurricanes and wind storms. It’s a good idea to install storm shutters, and heavy hinges and locks on your doors.