As winter has descended upon Chicagoland, bringing with it the notorious cold and biting winds, homeowners face a daunting challenge: preventing their pipes from freezing. The plummeting temperatures can cause water in pipes to freeze, leading to bursts, costly repairs, and considerable inconvenience. However, with proper knowledge and preparation, homeowners and renters can safeguard their homes against this frosty menace.
Keep the Heat On
This one is really for the snowbirds who might have a winter home in a warmer climate. One of the most effective ways to prevent pipes from freezing is to keep your home heated to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re away. This consistent warmth helps ensure that the temperature inside the walls, where pipes are often located, stays above freezing.
Pipes in unheated areas like basements, attics, and garages are particularly susceptible to freezing. Use foam pipe insulation or heating tape to wrap these pipes. This extra layer of insulation can make a significant difference in maintaining a safe temperature within the pipes.
Let Faucets Drip
Allowing a trickle of water to flow through the faucets connected to exposed pipes can prevent freezing. Water movement makes it harder for ice to form and even a small flow can provide this benefit. Keep this tip in mind especially as temperatures fall below 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Seal Cracks and Openings
Examine your home’s exterior and seal any holes or cracks where cold air might penetrate, particularly where pipes run through walls. Use caulk or insulation to seal these gaps to keep the cold out and the heat in.
Open Cabinet Doors
Protect pipes under sinks by opening cabinet doors, allowing the warmer air from your home to circulate around the plumbing. This is especially important during particularly cold nights.
Disconnect Outside Water Hoses
Remove, drain, and store garden hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs and open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. This prevents any remaining water in the pipes from freezing. We also recommend placing a styrofoam insulator over your outdoor spigots.
Know Where to Locate the Main Water Valve
In the unfortunate event that a pipe does burst, residents should know where to find the main water valve to quickly shut off water to the house, minimizing damage.
Consider Professional Insulation
If you have recurrent problems with freezing pipes, or have hard-to-reach areas, consider hiring a professional to insulate your home and plumbing. They can provide tailored solutions that might be more effective.
By following these simple but crucial steps, homeowners, landlords, and renters in Chicagoland can protect their plumbing systems during the brutal winter months. Remember, an ounce of prevention is much better than a pound of cure; taking action before the temperatures drop can provide the best way to avoid the headaches of frozen pipes. Stay warm and stay prepared!