Starting out the New Year with below-freezing temps in the Outer Banks can put a damper on the post-holiday spirit. But even worse than frigid temps outdoors are freezing temps that can harm your indoor or outdoor plumbing. We are outlining our thoughts on preventing frozen pipes on the Outer Banks, whether you live in the home or own a vacation rental.
According to an estimate by State Farm Insurance, an eighth-inch crack in a pipe that acts as a water resource can unload as much water as 250 gallons over a 24-hour period, with pipe and home repairs reaching $10K and up. If you’re in the home, you will most likely spot a crack or leak before the water becomes damaging, but it can be particularly disastrous if your home is vacant during the winter months.
Aside from having an annual inspection of your plumbing system, or winterizing your Outer Banks home, here are a few tips to eliminate (or at the very least, mitigate) frozen pipes:
- Disconnect hoses from any outside water sources. If left attached, they can prevent pipes from draining; this can lead to cracks and leaks of your pipes.
- Close off water supply to any outdoor faucets, showers or other sources.
- Open the doors on kitchen and bathroom cabinets that are located on an outside wall. This will enable warm air flow around the pipes.
- Allow faucets inside your home that are located on an outside wall to drip (both hot and cold-water sides so both pipes are drawing water). Moving water tends not to freeze. However, this moving water can stabilize in your drain and possibly freeze, so it’s important to monitor this. If you’re unable to do so (vacation rental, summer home), then it’s best not to let the faucets drip.
- Turn up the heat on your thermostat, and set it to run at the same temperature 24-7 during the freeze period.
- Insulate your attic, utility room, crawl spaces and exposed piping. Heat tape can also be used to wrap pipes and prevent pipes from freezing.
NEVER, EVER …
- Take a torch to your pipes
- Poor anti-freeze down your sink or in your toilet
- Use any electrical equipment in standing water
- Try to cut or repair piping without a knowledgeable professional present
Repairing frozen pipes can be tricky when temperatures are still below freezing. But once you’ve managed any issues that were discovered, begin to make a plan of attack to ensure these problems don’t rear their ugly heads again! Keep in mind that houses built in late 60’s to early 80’s were piped with copper and not designed for the extreme weather patterns we see today. Copper pipes are rigid and hard to install in the flooring system, so they were often placed below the ‘heated envelope’ (the insulated area of your home) and more prone to freezing – especially carport areas. For the best defense against winter weather, these pipes should be replaced.
If you’re having issues year after year, and doing your best to patch and repair, it might be time to consider re-piping once winter is behind us and put an end to the hassle and cost of annual repairs.