Freezing pipes: What to do and how to prevent them

We don’t get as much cold weather as they do in other parts of the country.  Most of us who live here in Florida live here because we like the warm weather.

We joke about palm trees and wearing shorts and flip flops in December, spending the holidays on the beach and having only one day of Winter.  We tease our friends and family in colder climates about our warm weather.

Also, because we are accustomed to the warmer weather, we tend not to spend as much time preparing our homes for Winter as those in colder, more northern climates are accustomed to spending.

But even here in Florida, we do have some cold nights.  I was reminded of this a short time ago when a beep from my cell phone announced that there is a freeze warning in effect for tonight.   This means that temperatures could get cold enough to cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases, burst causing water damage to your home.

But there are steps that you can take to prevent this from happening.

  • Disconnect and drain all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
  • If you have a swimming pool, make sure that it is properly winterized. Consider hiring a professional.
  • Keep the temperature in the home at 68 degrees or higher, even if you are going to be gone from the home for an extended period of time.
  • Open cabinet doors below kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Wrap pipes closest to exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. In a pinch, even wrapping pipes in newspaper can provide some degree of insulation in areas that do not have frequent or prolonged freezes.
  • Close all windows near water pipes and cover or close open-air vents.
  • If you have a basement, heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
  • Allow water to drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running even a trickle of water through pipes can help prevent them from freezing.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off the water supply valves to your washing machine.

The first sign of freezing pipes is reduced water flow from a faucet.  If a faucet or pipe freezes, you can thaw it by heating water on the stove, soaking towels in the hot water and wrapping them around the cold section so the pipes or by using a hair dryer.  (CAUTION:  Do not operate a hair dryer around standing water.)

Make sure the faucet is turned on so that the melted water can drip out and start by thawing the part of the pipe closest to the faucet.

If a pipe does burst, shut off the main water valve.  If the break is in a hot water pipe, close the valve on top of the water heater.

Call a plumber and a water mitigation company, if necessary.  Most homeowner’s insurance policies require that you make reasonable repairs to prevent further damage or loss to your property and will even pay for these costly repairs as long as the damage was caused by a covered peril and the costs are reasonable.

Review your insurance policy and if you have any concerns regarding the coverage afforded by your insurance policy, consult an attorney experienced in the area of homeowner’s property insurance claims and insurance coverage disputes.

If you have questions about your insurance coverage or need help with your insurance coverage dispute, please contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.

David Graham

Author David Graham

More posts by David Graham

Leave a Reply