Much of the United States is blanketed with snow and ice during the holiday season. Despite the frosty temperatures, holiday travel continues, and homes are left unattended. Frozen pipes during this time are possible but can be prevented with handy tips that homeowners can easily manage.
Winter temperatures in the US average 33.2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just above freezing. While the season’s temps hover around a pleasant 46 degrees Fahrenheit in California, states, like Illinois, Maine, and Minnesota, see winter temperatures ranging from 12.4 to 28.3 degrees Fahrenheit.
A home’s plumbing system can freeze when the air around the pipes drops below the freezing point, which is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Homeowners who travel out of town during the winter holiday season prepare by setting the thermostat lower. But during icy winter nights, the pipes can freeze and burst.
While the likelihood of pipes freezing during a holiday vacation doubles, even people staying at home can experience disaster. Families that host large gatherings will use their plumbing system more rigorously. The extra usage may be attributed to guests showering, cooking, or flushing more.
Whether the family is planning to host a gathering at home during the holiday season or visit relatives thousands of miles away, it is important to take precautionary measures to prevent the water pipes from freezing amidst the winter’s subfreezing temperatures.
The first step vacationing homeowners are advised to take to prevent frozen pipes is to monitor the home’s thermostat. Indoor temperatures should not drop lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Before leaving for the holiday trip, be sure to replace the battery in the thermostat.
Renters who will be traveling may be advised or even required by landlords to keep the thermostat above a specific temperature, such as 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to setting the thermostat at a certain level, renters may be required to leave the water taps dripping.
Homeowners who travel extensively during the holiday season and beyond might consider installing a smart thermostat. The smart thermostat is remotely controlled by a tablet, smartphone, smart speaker, or other internet-connected device. The desired temperature settings can be conveniently scheduled.
Room sensors may be included in some types of smart thermostats. The room sensors are capable of measuring the temperature within a certain room of the home and then heat or cool that area based on local temps. Plus, the energy saving potential of room sensors is enormous.
Not all pipes are equal. Some water pipes may be located in the colder parts of the home, like the attic or crawlspace. These pipes can freeze under ideal conditions, since they do not receive the home’s ambient heat or may be directly subjected to cold, outside air.
Insulating the plumbing system before heading out on the anticipated holiday excursion will prevent them from freezing and possibly bursting soon after. Adding insulation to the water pipes requires little more than purchasing easy-to-use, low-cost materials from the local hardware store.
The extra layer of protection may be achieved with heat tape, pipe sleeves or heat cables. Insulation material varies and includes fiberglass wrap kits, foam, pre-slit polyethylene, and foil. Insulate the exposed water pipes in the basement, garage, and other unheated areas of the home.
Another tactic to allow warm household air to circulate is to keep the cabinets under the kitchen and bathroom sinks open when no one is home. The circulation of warm air around pipes that are exposed to the cold or affixed to exterior walls helps to keep them from freezing.
Consider leaving the hatch to the attic open to achieve the same benefits: Warm air will circulate up and around the attic pipes. Although this strategy initially appears expensive and environmentally unfriendly, it could save on the cost of restoring an attic in which the pipes freeze and burst.
Without water in the pipes, the pipes cannot freeze. Simply turning off the water supply to the home still leaves abundant moisture inside the pipes, which can later turn to ice. Draining down the water and central heating system are also necessary to fully eliminate the threat of frozen pipes.
Alternately, allow the tap water to slowly drip. This tactic is especially useful when temperatures are expected to drop drastically. Standing water is likely to solidify; flowing water prevents freezing and the possibility of the pipes bursting while the house is vacant during brief holiday travel.
Long durations of winter holiday travel will prompt any homeowner to wonder about the condition of the home. A friend or neighbor’s close watch on whether or not the home is warm enough to prevent freezing offers a homeowner significant relief.
In the midst of the merry season, the pipes may freeze. However, frozen pipes do not always rupture. If turning on the tap does not release water, it is evidence of a frozen pipe. When coming home to frozen pipes, try to warm them up with a hair dryer.
If the pipes have already burst and caused water damage to the rest of the property, it is important to immediately call water damage restoration experts, like ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration. Our experienced crews are aware that water damage spreads rapidly, so we arrive right away.
Upon assessing the extent of water damage, our specialists will develop a restoration plan. We extract the excess moisture from the home using advanced equipment, like powerful dehumidifiers and industrial fans. We ensure the entire property is thoroughly dry and free of waterborne bacteria.
Water damage is a serious issue, due to the many additional problems it can cause. Mold infestations quickly develop, and structural damage often occurs. Home and business owners in Quincy, Illinois and the surrounding areas, who need emergency water damage restoration can rely on ServiceMaster Cleaning & Restoration 24 hours a day.