How to prevent frozen pipes and what to do if a pipe bursts


When the temperature reaches freezing, this can cause the water inside pipes to freeze. As the water freezes, it expands causing the pressure inside the pipes to increase. Frozen pipes is a minor inconvenience; a pipe that bursts is a homeowner’s nightmare.

Water lines are particularly susceptible to freezing when the temperature outside gets cold very quickly because the warmth from your heating system is unable to keep up with the demand the suddenly cold temperatures bring. Homes in more temperate climates are also susceptible when the temperature dips below freezing. Because they are typically warmer, water pipes may not be insulated as well as they should be.

Preventing frozen pipes

  • Insulate pipes, especially those close to outside walls, attics or crawl spaces where the chance of freezing is greatest.
  • Seal any air leaks near the pipes.
  • If there are water supply lines in your garage, keep the garage doors closed.
  • Always remember to drain, disconnect and store garden hoses.
  • Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs.
  • Open the cabinet doors in kitchen and bathroom – this lets warmer air circulate around the plumbing.
  • Maintain thermostat at 55 degrees or higher when you are out of town.
  • If you get a cold snap, turn on both hot and cold faucets near outside walls allowing a small trickle of water to run during the night.
  • Identify the locations of shutoff valves so that you are prepared to stop the flow of water as soon as possible when a pipe bursts.

If pipes freeze:

  • Thaw a frozen pipe using a good hair dryer. However, avoid using a hair dryer around standing water.
  • Heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around the pipe.
  • When thawing a pipe, start nearer to the faucet and work your way back.
  • Turn on the faucet so water can drip out as the ice melts.
  • If you have one frozen pipe, chances are that you may have more. Check all other faucets in your home.

If pipes burst:

  • Shut off the water at the main valve.
  • Take precautions to avoid electrical shock from being in or near standing water.
  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
  • Call a plumber.
  • Take inventory of any damaged property.
  • Contact your insurance agent to help you locate an emergency water mitigation specialist who can dry out the damaged area quickly.

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New Year’s resolutions for homeowners

The end of the year is always a great time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one. Many people signify this fresh start with a New Year’s resolution. If you’re a homeowner, here are a few resolutions you may want to consider for your home.

Save energy

There are some simple ways to save energy (and a few bucks). Turning down your thermostat when you’re at work or sleeping is a great first step. A better option is to replace it with a programmable thermostat that will remember to do it for you.

Keep your home safe

Many people install new batteries in their smoke detectors on the day the time changes in the fall and spring. Did you forget? Make it a point to ensure that you have fresh batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Don’t have a carbon monoxide detector? They are fairly inexpensive and as easy to install as a smoke alarm. While you’re at it, check to make sure your fire extinguishers are in working order.

Help the environment

Whether your community requires it or not, recycling helps the environment and is everyone’s responsibility. Save water by repairing dripping faucets, installing low-flow showerheads, and replacing old toilets with new water saving or dual-flush models. When buying new appliances or electronic equipment, be sure they carry the federal Energy Star seal for energy efficiency.

Save money

Home maintenance projects can help you prolong the life of your home and make things more efficient, and therefore, save you money in the long run. Changing the air filter on your central air unit every month or two helps you save energy and allows your system to run more efficiently. If you still have a standard water heater, draining the tank once a year removes any sediment buildup, which can make it last longer and work more efficiently.

Safety tips for fireplaces

If you’re in the market for a new home, no doubt you made the list of features that you want in your dream home. For many, a fireplace is one of those must haves.

Of course, there are several reasons to want a fireplace. From a practical standpoint, it is a cost-effective way to provide heat during the winter. It becomes a focal point for the gathering of friends and family, lending ambiance to the room it is in. At this time of year, it becomes a place for many homeowners to hang decorations during the holiday season.

There is, of course, a price to be paid for the warmth and memories. Every homeowner has to keep safety issues at top of mind when it comes to having a fireplace. You’ll keep your fireplace safe and operating properly and safely if you keep these safety tips in mind:

Keep it clean

Depending upon how often you use your fireplace, it is recommended that chimneys be swept at least once a year. Find a certified chimney sweep to come out in the late fall or early winter to remove soot and debris.

Check for damage

In addition to cleaning, most chimney sweeps should inspect the chimney structure for cracks, loose bricks or missing mortar when they are on the roof. In addition, chimney liners should be checked for damage.

Cap the chimney

In order to keep debris, birds and small animals from entering the chimney, a cap is placed on the chimney. The cap also needs to be examined for damage when the sweep is there.

What you burn makes a difference

Hardwoods include dense woods such as oak, hickory, ash and some fruit woods. “Seasoned” implies that the wood has been split and stored to dry for at least six months. Green woods and soft woods produce a flammable by-product called creosote, which can build up in the chimney and become flammable.

Building it right

Small fires generate less smoke and less creosote build-up. Additionally, a fire that is too large or too hot can damage the chimney. Logs should be placed at the rear of the fireplace on a metal grate. Don’t use flammable liquids to start the fire.

Use a spark guard

Even seasoned wood can crackle and pop. You can prevent embers from shooting out of the firebox with a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors.

Outdoor holiday decorating safety tips for homeowners

Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect opportunity to decorate the landscape and exterior of your home for the holidays. If you plan to decorate this year, it’s important to remember that doing so presents some fire and safety hazards.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), about 12,500 people go to emergency rooms to be treated for injuries, such as falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday lights, decorations, and Christmas trees. Accidents do happen; but many are preventable if we just take some time and a few precautions while decorating outside.

1. Only use lighting sets and extension cords that are specifically made for outdoor use. They’ll have the Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) label.

2. Know how many sets can be strung together. It will usually be printed somewhere on the package, on a tag on the cord itself, or on a paper within the package. Usually, it’s 3.

3. Before you start, check all light sets for fraying, aging, and heat damage and throw out sets that show any signs of damage. Always unplug lights before changing bulbs, replacing fuses or making any other repairs.

4. Always test your light sets before starting. Replacing broken and burnt-out bulbs is much easier on the ground than on a ladder or roof.

5. Connect sets of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into an outlet. Be careful not to overload extension cords.

6. Use hooks or insulated staples to hold lights in place. Do not use nails or tacks.

7. Never pull or tug lights to remove or disconnect them.

8. To avoid potential shocks, plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with GFI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection.

9. Make sure to observe all safety precautions for the ladder. Know the weight limit restrictions. Avoid contact with overhead power lines when setting up your ladder. Make sure that it is set on solid ground. Have someone working with you to steady the ladder as you climb up or down.

10. Keep any connections between light sets and extension cords dry by wrapping them with electrical tape or plastic.

11. Check the wire on the Christmas lights occasionally to make sure that they’re not warm to the touch.

12. Always turn off all Christmas lights and decorations before going to bed or leaving the house. You can hook up a simple timer so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

For more holiday decorating safety tips, check the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission website. (link to http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Newsroom/News-Releases/2004/CPSC-Announces-Holiday-Season-Decorating-Safety-Tips/)

Air Conditioners Information to Know – Repair or Replace

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