Tips for Protecting Your Home During the Deep Freeze

Lieutenant Jason Decremer of the Southbury Volunteer Fire Department offers some helpful hints and advice to help residents get through the frigid weather safely.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
Hopefully, we don't need to tell you to bundle up out there, but when it comes to tips and tricks for protecting your home during frigid weather, we consulted the Southbury Volunteer Fire Department.

They're pretty busy--they've already responded to one residential home and one commercial building with burst pipes this week--but Lieutenant Jason Decremer took time to offer a few important tips.

General safety tips for the winter and heating season:

-Make sure residents have had their furnaces inspected within the last 12 months. 

-Chimneys and vents should also be cleaned and inspected once every 12 months to avoid build-up of creosote, which is the leading cause of chimney fires.

-Make sure wood used is dry and seasoned. 

-Working smoke detectors should be placed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area. For the best protection, alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound. 

Bursting Pipes:

-Cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes should be sealed with caulking to keep cold wind away from the pipes.

-Kitchen and bathroom cabinets can keep warm inside air from reaching pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls.  Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting.  (The recommendation is to do this only on pipes vulnerable to freezing.)  The drip can be very slight. 

-When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much the heat is lowered. A lower temperature may save on the heating bill, but there could be a disaster if a cold spell strikes and pipes that normally would be safe freeze and burst. 

-The best safeguard is to drain the water system. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn on every water fixture (both hot and cold lines) until water stops running. (It's not necessary to leave the fixtures open, since the system is filled mostly with air at that point and not subject to freezing). When returning to the home, turn the main valve back on and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again.

Two more tips from the American Red Cross:

-Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.

-Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.


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