9 Smart steps to take before the first winter freeze this year
1. Know where the main water shut off valve is to your home. This will enable you to shut the water off to the house should one of the pipes freeze and burst. The quicker you can get the water shut off, the less damage will be done. This will also give you time to call the plumber for help.
Don't skip this. On 2 of the houses we have purchased, it was a great mystery as to where the shutoff was located. It's so much easier to find it when the weather is warmer.
2. Find out where the water pipes are located in your home. In most cases they will be in the crawl space under your home or possibly in your attic. Once you've found exposed pipes, wrap them with insulation. The more protective insulation you can wrap around them, the less likely they are to freeze and burst.
NOTE: The best time to learn about your house is during your home inspection when you purchase it.
3. In extremely cold temperatures you may also want to use thermostatically-controlled heat cables. These can be wrapped around the insulation and should only be used according to manufacturer's instructions for installing them. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. independently tests and approves these cables; be sure to use only those which have been UL approved.
4. Take the time to seal up any leaks around the pipes which may be allowing cold air into the area where the pipes are exposed. This could mean checking around electrical wiring which comes through the walls, dryer vents and the pipes themselves. Use flexible insulation, caulk or a can of expandable foam insulation. By blocking as much air as possible you'll reduce the chance of the pipes bursting.
We have used foam wrap around exposed pipes near hose spigots
5. Disconnect and remove any garden hoses which won't be used during the winter. Turn the valve off to the spigot and drain all of the water from the faucet.
6. If you must leave a faucet active for whatever reason, remove the garden hose between uses. You can also put an insulated cap over the faucet to keep it from freezing.
7. When the temperatures are expected to get especially frigid, leave a trickle of hot and cold water running in at least one sink which is on an outside wall. This may be just enough to avoid freezing pipes. Read my story about what can happen if you don't plan ahead!