Water Damage Prevention
Idaho residents face temperatures well below freezing. Low temperatures can allow water in pipes to freeze, causing the pipes to burst. Here are some tips for protecting pipes.
- Let water run. Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. A small flow of water helps prevents freezing by allowing relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.
- Leave heat at or above 55 degrees. When away from the house for an extended period during the winter, be careful how much you lower the heat (no lower than 55 degrees). 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.
- Drain the water system. This is the best safeguard. With no water in the pipes, there is no freezing. This remedy should be considered even when the homeowner is not leaving but is concerned about a serious overnight freeze. To drain the system, shut off the main valve and turn every water fixture on (both hot and cold lines) until the water stops running. When returning water to the house, turn on the main valve and let each fixture run until the pipes are full again.