‘Tis the season of Chicagoland’s frosty winter.  Shorter days, colder temperatures and recurrent snowstorms are all standard fare during our long winter months.  Ensuring your home is equipped and prepared for the dropping temperatures is not only a priority but a necessity, at this time of year. 

One cause of concern for homeowners during the winter season is the risk of pipes freezing as the outside temperatures plummet.  Frozen pipes can burst as water-turned-ice forces pipes to expand, not only wreaking havoc in your home but also causing a significant expense as well.  Additionally, if you have a boiler and its piping freezes, you may lose heat to your home.  But with a few simple, preventative measures, it’s very possible to minimize the risk of your pipes freezing this winter.

  1. Insulate pipes. Pipes located in unheated areas, such as an unfinished basement, crawl space, or garage should always be insulated.  Inexpensive foam pipe insulation can be applied to both cold and hot water pipes that are exposed to cold air.  The insulation will keep excessive cold air from permeating the pipes.
  2. Leave a faucet dripping. If you will be away from your home for an extended period of time, it’s important to leave a faucet dripping, specifically one that has a supply pipe running along an outside wall.  Even the smallest trickle of water can ensure the water flow in your pipes continues, significantly reducing the ability for the water inside the pipes to freeze, since flowing water freezes slower than standing water.  Allowing a small faucet trickle is also a good idea in extreme temperatures as well.
  3. Control the temperature in your home. Even if you are away, your thermostat should be set to a minimum of 55 degrees, safeguarding your home from becoming too cold.
  4. Inspect outside water lines. Empty and disconnect outside hoses, drain your pool, and install covers on all outside faucets.
  5. Keep garage doors closed. Garage walls are often not as insulated as well as outside walls, allowing cold air to seep into the house.
  6. Open up cabinet doors below the faucets inside the home. This allows for more of the household heat to circulate around those pipes.

When in doubt, it might be a good idea to schedule a complete professional cold weather plumbing inspection. Chicagoland winters can be harsh – and unpredictable. But if you prepare and take care with these simple tips and tricks, you can put a freeze on potential problems before they happen.