Winter Preparedness - No Burst Pipes!

The weather has been getting colder and colder, so now is the time to prepare our homes for freezing conditions to help prevent burst pipes.  Each association’s documents are a little bit different, so owners should check theirs to see which of the following items are their responsibility versus the responsibility of the HOA.  In general, if the suggested action can only be taken from inside the home, it is the responsibility of the owner.

Shut off and drain exterior hose bibs and cover them with a styrofoam cover.  Exterior water sources have their piping along the edge of the home, making them more likely to freeze and burst than pipes inside the home.  Turn the hose bib off (these should have individual shutoffs; if not, you may want to consider having a plumber install one), go outside, turn on the faucet and allow all the water inside to escape.  Once that is done, leave the faucet open and install a cover, which can be purchased for $2 or less, at a home improvement store.  That way, even if the small amount of remaining water in the pipe freezes, it has room to expand and is unlikely to burst.

When you leave, leave the heat on.  Many owners go on vacation or out of town around the holidays and do not consider that the temperature may drop rapidly.  Experts recommend that the thermostat always be set to at least 50 degrees during this time of year.  Even being away from your home for a few hours when the temperature drops sharply may leave your pipes vulnerable to freezing.

Open doors under sinks to allow air flow.  Although location of the pipes vary, whenever possible and especially when a home will be empty for a length of time, open the cabinet doors beneath all of the sinks to encourage air flow.  There is some speculation that leaving the taps dripping may also be useful, but experts seem to be divided on whether this is truly helpful or simply a waste of water.

Arrange for someone to check on your home every few day if you’re out of town.  The last thing anyone wants is to come home to a disaster.  Owners should have a family member, friend or neighbor stop by and go into their home periodically (at least every few days) to ensure nothing is amiss.

Know where the main water shutoff to your home is and know how to use it.  Even when owners take every precaution, sometimes water lines freeze and break.  If so, the owner needs to know how to turn off the water to the home to prevent additional damage.

With these few simple steps, owners can help lessen their chances of having to deal with broken pipes and the subsequent damage and potentially expensive repairs.