With the changes in the weather in recent years, once rare events are becoming more commonplace, which makes knowing how to avoid damage in a freeze a priority—even if you live in Kingwood, Texas. In early 2021, much of the Houston area experienced a historic freeze that rendered much of the city virtually helpless, with burst pipes and significant water damage in homes across the area. Do not let yourself and those you love be caught unprepared by the next winter weather event. Be proactive now to avoid damage in a freeze and all the headaches that can come with it.
What Can Happen When You Are Not Prepared for A Freeze?
Residents of Kingwood, Texas typically experience temperatures below freezing for only a few days each year, so when the temperatures dipped well below zero for an extended period in February 2021, residents were largely unprepared. In combination with the state’s power grid issues, the results of the freeze were heartbreaking, including:
- Hundreds, if not thousands, of residents with burst pipes and water damage
- Limited availability of plumbers due to high demand
- An estimated $18 billion in freeze-related damages
Perhaps the only silver lining of this remarkably hard freeze was that it taught the community several costly but valuable lessons in better preparing for a freeze.
7 Tips on How to Avoid Damage in A Freeze
The best defense against a freeze is to simply be prepared. There is no one thing a home or business owner can do to fully protect against a freeze, but by completing the following steps regarding how to avoid damage in a freeze, it can help reduce the odds of extensive damage.
- Know how to turn off the water to your home. Whether it is to proactively do so in anticipation of a freeze or reactively after a pipe has burst, it is critical to know where the shut off is for the water and how to turn it off quickly.
- Cover exterior faucets. Insulate all exposed outdoor faucets to keep them from freezing. If a particularly substantial freeze is headed your way, it may be worth considering turning off the water to these faucets and then thoroughly draining the lines to keep exposed pipes from bursting when the water freezes and expands.
- Shut off the water to interior pipes when appropriate. If you live in a southern climate in which houses are not typically built to sustain multiple days in a row of temperatures well below freezing, consider temporarily shutting off the water to your home and then drain all faucets to empty the pipes of as much water as possible. This can be key in keeping water in the pipes from expanding and breaking the pipe itself. Be sure to keep some fresh water handy for you and the family.
- Drip interior faucets when appropriate. When temperatures near or below freezing are forecast to occur for only a limited time, it may make more sense to set the faucets in your home to a slow drip to keep the water moving. Remember to leave the hot and cold water lines dripping and open up cabinets where sink pipes are located so the heat from the home can better keep them warm.
- Insulate your pipes and surrounding area. If time allows, do what you can to insulate pipes that are located in the attic, as well as the attic itself. Insulation can be added in the attic to help keep a home warmer and provide a barrier against some of the cold from outdoors. However, it can also be a good idea to insulate the pipe itself with special insulation that a plumber will have in stock or that can likely be purchased at a local hardware store.
- Keep the house reasonably warm. In a warm house there is a better chance of keeping the pipes warmer too. The best way to do this is to ensure that any cracks or holes on the exterior of the home by a window are properly caulked or insulated to keep freezing cold air out.
- Plan ahead if going out of town. If you are planning to go out of town during the winter season, it can be a good idea to leave a key and instructions for a local neighbor or friend should a hard winter freeze head toward your home. These individuals can assist with dripping the faucets, keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature, checking for damage, and contacting the plumber of your choice should a plumbing emergency arise.
If you have questions regarding any of the above steps, it is recommended to reach out to your plumber for more information and assistance.
When it comes to learning how to avoid damage in a freeze, the best defense is to be proactive in your preparation and be an existing customer with a trustworthy and reputable plumber.