Winter isn’t over yet, with parts of the country experiencing record cold this February. Besides keeping your family warm and protected, you should be vigilant in below-zero temperatures to avoid water leaks, both inside and outside your home.
A Freeze in the Night
There's nothing worse than frozen pipes. If your pipes freeze you won't get water from your faucets, and more ominously, if you don't address the situation the pipe can actually burst and send a deluge of water rushing through your home, causing serious damage. Avoid disaster by making sure you insulate any pipes that aren't located in heated areas of your home. In extreme cold this might not be enough to prevent a freeze. You should take the additional preventive measure of turning your faucets on to a drip to keep the water running. If you do experience a frozen pipe, call a professional plumber. In a pinch you may be able to use a hair dryer, heat lamp or other non-flame heat source to melt the ice before the pipe bursts. Never use a torch or open flame to thaw a pipe. Not only is it a fire hazard, but it will likely damage the pipe.
Drip, Drip, Drip
Frozen pipes don't have to burst to cause you an expensive headache. If you catch one in time and are able to thaw it, you might think you're out of danger. However, repeated freezing and thawing can put stress on the pipes by causing them to expand and contract. Over time, this can damage the pipe and cause it to leak. This is a risky situation, especially if it's in an out-of-the-way area you aren't likely to notice for some time. Even the tiniest leak can cause major damage to your home if it isn't fixed, so stay alert.
Water Heater Malfunction
It's not just your pipes that can take damage in cold weather. Even your water heater itself can spring a leak, especially if you have an older model that's kept in an unheated basement. The metal can flex and contract with the changes in temperature. If the tank fails, it's time to buy a new one -- after you clean up the mess. Keep an eye out for rust in your water or bending, cracking or bulging in the appliance that could be a sign it's reaching the end of its lifespan and might not make it through the winter. Call a plumber to make an assessment.
Your Roof Betrays You
As well as paying attention to the plumbing inside your home, you should also be wary of water coming in from the outside. If you have heavy snowfall, ice can build up on your gutters and the edge of your roof, preventing snow melt from draining properly to the ground. Instead, the water may back up and find its way inside your house, jeopardizing the structural integrity of your roof and causing damage inside the home. To prevent this, make sure you clear snow off your roof as soon as you safely can, and knock away any ice around the edge.
Don't wait until the winter elements combine to flood your home. Make a preemptive call to a plumber; he or she can find any danger spots in your plumbing system and help prevent leaks before they start.
Contact local Benjamin Franklin® to make an examination of your plumbing system and perform any necessary maintenance.