All across the upper Midwest, the winter months are the worst for weather and the subsequent property damage it can cause. Residents of Michigan are susceptible to several dicey dorms every year due to the fact that their state borders Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. When winter begins raging in Michigan it’s important for homeowners to be prepared in order to avoid property damage. To emphasize the point, Governor Granholm declared the week of November 7, 2010 as Winter Hazards Awareness Week
One of the most severe winter problems in Michigan, and other similar states, is frozen water pipes that burst and cause flooding. According to the state, approximately 250,000 homes are damaged annually by frozen and burst water pipes. It’s not something we normally think about because in most cases, our pipes run through areas of the home that stay warm enough to prevent freezing. But if you have pipes in your attic, and unheated basement, or a poorly insulated crawlspace, you could be at risk for frozen pipes during the dead of winter.
Frozen pipes almost always occur under one of two conditions. First, a vacant house waiting to be sold may have the heat turned down significantly. Believe it or not, a thermostat at 50° is cold enough to allow pipes in the basement or attic to freeze. The second, and more common scenario, is one where pipes in an attic or crawlspace freeze on extremely cold nights. In either case, when water freezes it expands, putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the plumbing.
There are a couple of things you can do to help prevent frozen pipes, beginning with insulation. Foam insulation can be purchased from your local home improvement store for very little money. Insulating pipes in an attic, crawlspace, or basement will go a long way in preventing freezing. If you’re unable to gain access to an attic or crawlspace to insulate your pipes, a temporary solution would be to turn on faucets just enough so as to cause an ever so slight drip. Faucets located near the outside wall are the best choice, but any will do. Allowing the water to drip keeps it moving through your pipes and reduces the likelihood of freezing.
Finally, when it does become possible for you to access your threatened pipes, you should insulate the entire area. Insulate the pipes, walls, floors, roof, etc. The better insulated your home is, the safer your pipes will be. And as a bonus, you’ll also save money on your heating bill!