GOOD Home is a biweekly column published in partnership with PuroClean of Wilton | Ridgefield about home safety, maintenance, weather preparedness, and damage prevention, with the goal to save homeowners from the hassle and headaches of severe property damage. Located in south Wilton (24 Danbury Rd., Suite 204), PuroClean provides 24/7 water damage remediation, fire and smoke restoration, and mold and biohazard removal services to the Fairfield County community and across southwest CT and Northeastern Westchester County.
As I often say when talking about weather, I am not a weatherman nor do I claim to be. What I do know is that our area is going to endure 3-4 days of extremely cold weather. As of this writing, the coldest days appear to be Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4. To further complicate things, Friday will bring some wind gusts, which increase havoc.
We like to advise people within our community of proactive steps they can take to potentially mitigate or reduce any type of damage. The last week of 2023 brought an onslaught of property damage all related to the cold air mass we experienced then. Our communities in Fairfield and Westchester Counties are no strangers to cold weather and are rather resilient, but we’re sharing some tips we feel you will be better prepared.
The most common type of freeze-related property damage is frozen pipes, so here what we recommend:
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
- Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Avoid putting antifreeze in these lines if possible (keeping in mind that antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is very dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping).
- Drain your plumbing system thoroughly. If water lines sag or bow, there may be low spots that are difficult to drain completely. To be most effective, use compressed air to blow out the lines. If not properly done, some amount of water will remain in the low points of the lines that can freeze.
- Disconnect, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Remember to keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
- Check in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets where water supply lines are located in unheated areas.
- Insulate both hot and cold-water pipes in these areas to help prevent freezing. Use specific products for insulating water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed heat tape, heat cable, or similar materials on exposed water pipes.
- Allow a faucet in your home to drip slightly. Moving water (even a drip) will help prevent pipes from freezing.
- During cold winter weather, keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children.
- If your pipes do rupture, make sure you know where your water shuts offs are located. Mark them with a tag like the one pictured below.
When Leaving Home for More Than a Few Days
If you plan to be away from home for an extended period during cold weather:
- Leave the heat on in your home. Set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
- Shut off the water supply and drain pipes or appliances.
- Leave all taps open once you’ve shut off the main water supply. If the home loses power, the open valves will help prevent pipes from bursting. Also, shutting off the master valve will ensure that even if there is a break, the result will be minor, compared to an open line running wild!
- Even if you do all the above, arrange for a neighbor to walk through your home once each day — just to help monitor against unforeseen events.
- Have emergency numbers handy such as a plumber, electrician, roofer, and PuroClean in case something does go wrong.
- Have your HVAC system serviced by a professional.
- Before leaving, turn off your water heater. (See owner’s manual for procedures.)
- Install storm windows and/or close shutters to keep in the heat.
- Clean gutters and downspouts to ensure proper water drainage.
- Service your sump pump to ensure proper operation. Adding a backup power source is prudent.
- Unplug all nonessential electric appliances.
- Inform local police if you will be out of town.
If you do have the unfortunate situation with ruptured pipes or a freeze-related incident, remember PuroClean of Wilton | Ridgefield is here to respond 24/7. Contact us by calling 475.277.2400 or look us up on Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram.