If the recent cold weather snap has caught you by surprise, you may still be able to save yourself costly repair bills by making sure you've reviewed the following guidelines:
1. Locate your water shut-off valve - This is a good practice for any time of the year. Should you find yourself in an emergency situation with a major water leak or pipe breakage - run for the shut-off valve. Most houses in the city have one at their water meter near the street. Some homes may have an additional one located in the crawl space of the house.
2. Keep the water flowing - In most cases water will not completely freeze if water is flowing through the pipe. Set a faucet to a slow trickle during the night or stagger water usage throughout the day. Shower in the morning, a little later start of load of laundry and then run the dishwasher after that.
3. Keep the home warm - If you are away for even a short time, keep the house at a minimum of 55 degrees. This ambient temperature will usually keep pipes safe. However, when temps dipped below zero two years ago, even 55 wasn't enough to keep up and we saw many pipes freeze that had never had a problem before. Very low temps call for an even higher temp in the house. A little extra on the electric bill can mean a great savings of repairs and damage and usually it's only 1-2 days that we see these extremes in weather.
4. Open cabinet doors - On cold days and nights just opening the cabinets to expose sink pipes can make a great deal of difference.
5. Insulate pipes - While pipe insulation is not always a guarantee to keep pipes from freezing, it may be a good idea for areas that do not receive a warm air supply - such as pipes that line exterior walls of older homes and basements or crawl spaces. Insulation can be found at local stores like Ace Hardware and Home Depot.
6. Unscrew hoses outside - Many of the hose bibs (or water spigots) that we install have a "frost-free" design. This only works when the hose is removed from the connection. Hoses trap water and that water can expand to burst the pipe. We've seen water even start flooding the INSIDE of the home when this happens. Removing your hoses and covering the valve with an inexpensive insulated cover, like the one found here, can save homeowners a lot of trouble down the road
7. When you're away - Give a friend or neighbor access to the house while you're away. It's not uncommon that homeowners will leave when we are having moderate temperatures and take no cold weather precautions. When weather unexpectedly changes, things can get out of hand quickly. We saw this happen all over Sunriver a couple of years ago. If your friend knows to check on things and turn on heat when the weather is forecasted to be adverse, you can have peace of mind. This also includes giving them directions to the shut-off valve. TIP: if someone can't get into the house to see if there is a leak on an empty house - they can sometimes detect running water by watching the outside water meter. If the meter is moving - water is flowing!
8. Consider weatherizing the house - For a reasonable price, Bryan Young Plumbing can weatherize the house if you plan on being gone for a longer period of time. Weatherizing plumbing involves draining the water heater, blowing water from the pipes, using anti-freeze in the drains and properly shutting off water to the whole house.
Stay safe and dry. If you do end up needing a plumber don't hesitate to call Bryan Young Plumbing at 541-317-5852 in the Central Oregon Area. Most days appointments are available within 2 - 48 hours, but keep in mind that demand goes way up during freezing weather, so call early!