January is the coldest month of the year and it’s wasting no time, bringing us an extended cold snap. Now is a good time to make sure you don’t wake up to find a foot and a half of water in your basement thanks to a frozen water pipe that burst. Most homes’ water pipes are safe but some homeowners, especially those with garages under living space or those with pipes running through unheated areas, should take measures to keep pipes from freezing:
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas like crawlspaces, unheated garages and attics.
- Pay special attention to pipes near basement windows and make sure they are well insulated.
- Leave some heat on in unused areas of your home.
- If you go out of town for a few days, keep your thermostat on at least 55 degrees and open any cabinets where sink plumbing is against an outside wall. If necessary, keep a pencil-thin stream of cold water flowing from a faucet to prevent freezing.
- If you are leaving town for an extended period, have your home and pipes professionally winterized.
If a pipe does freeze and burst, know where the water system master shutoff valve is – normally in the basement – and turn off the water to prevent more damage.