Avoid Frozen Pipes in Your Warm Climate Home
Frozen pipes don't just happen in cold climates.
One sign of the seasons changing is getting your home ready for winter - especially when it comes to water pipes. For those whose primary - or vacation - home is in a warm climate, you may think it doesn't get cold enough here to freeze pipes. You probably want to think again. Homes in warm climates are often subject to the same freezing risks as homes in cold climates.
Most states will get a cold snap where temperatures dip below freezing. It doesn't take bitter cold to freeze a water pipe. Temperatures only have to dip to about 20°F for a few hours for an exposed water pipe to be at risk of freezing.
What's the solution?
Homes in warmer climates often have water pipes located in uninsulated areas such as attics, crawl spaces or exterior walls. The solution is to keep these pipes from being exposed to cold temperatures. You can accomplish this in many ways.
- Insulate the walls to protect pipes.
- Cover exposed pipes in crawl spaces or attics with insulation sleeves.
- Re-route pipes to an inside wall.
- Seal any cracks in the foundation or walls that allow pipes to be exposed to cold air.
- If pipes are in an outside wall to reach a bathroom or kitchen, keep cabinet doors open below the sink to allow warm air to reach pipes and keep them from freezing.
If a cold snap is coming and you don't have time to take these steps, open a faucet slightly to allow a small flow of water (make certain your sink isn't clogged or has the drain closed). Moving water may help prevent a pipe from freezing and relieve excessive pressure that builds when freezing occurs. If hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure to open each one, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a frozen pipe still needs pressure relief.
Vacation or seasonal homes
If you have a second home in a warm weather area, take caution to winterize it if you'll be gone for a long period of time.
- Keep the heat on low.
- Drain all pipes and water heater.
- Wrap any pipes in crawl spaces or uninsulated areas with insulation to prevent freezing if water can pool in those pipes.
- Put RV antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls. (Note: Do NOT use automotive engine antifreeze. This is highly toxic and could cause accidental poisoning.)
- Locate and seal any air leaks around windows, electrical outlets, doors and foundation.
- Install storm windows or insulator kits for an extra layer of insulation on your windows.
- Cover outside faucets with an insulated cup or install "freeze-proof" outdoor faucets.
- Increase amount of insulation in walls, attic and crawl spaces.
Taking a few moments to protect your home from the potential damage caused by a frozen water pipe can save you the frustration of cleanup, repair and the potential loss of personal mementos or family heirlooms.