Readying my house for a freeze isn’t something I do often here in Texas -- but it’s certainly a task fresh on my mind.
Just two weeks ago, my state saw a rare winter storm blow in. Temperatures dropped, snow blanketed the ground, and millions were without power and water, sometimes for days.
The storm also racked up a reported $195 billion-plus in property damage too, and plumbers are so slammed that pros are driving down from New Jersey just to pitch in and help.
It only underscores the importance of prepping your properties when extreme weather is on the horizon, especially in areas where homes aren’t built with such storms in mind.
Are you expecting a big freeze in your area? Want to prevent burst pipes and other costly forms of damage? Follow these steps.
Clean out your gutters
Clogged rain gutters can cause snow and ice to build up on your roof, and they also prevent the water (and melted snow/ice) from being properly directed away from the home.
To keep your property safe, make sure your gutters are clean and clear of debris. You can use a garden hose to rinse any leaves or debris down, or if it’s safe to do so, get up on a ladder and remove it by hand.
Wrap your outdoor pipes
You’ll next need to insulate any pipes or faucets that are exposed to the elements. You can do this with insulation wraps from the hardware store, or if you’re tight on time or resources, just wrap them tightly in towels. If you go the latter route, you should also wrap a plastic bag around the pipe once you’re done. This will keep the towel from getting wet and making matters worse.
Drip your faucets
It’s important to keep water flowing through your pipes if you don’t want them to freeze over or burst. To do this, set each faucet at a very slow drip using both the hot and cold taps. This is especially important at night when temperatures dip and you’re less likely to use water.
Open your under-sink cabinets
Opening up the cabinets can help, too. This lets the heat from your house more easily reach your pipes, which can keep them from freezing up and bursting. Wrapping or insulating these pipes can help as well.
Locate your water shut-off
If you really want to minimize damage to your property, make sure you (or your tenants) know where the main water shut-off is as well as how to use it. Turning off the water will be critical if a pipe bursts and begins flooding the home.
Double-check your insurance coverage
Finally, take some time to assess your home insurance policy, too. Are frozen or burst pipes covered? What about the water damage they can cause? You may need to adjust your coverage if not.
You’ll also want to be sure you’re insured up to the full replacement value of the home. Home values have been rising lately (as have the costs of lumber), so if it’s been a while, your current policy might not be adequate any longer.
The bottom line
We’re still in the heart of winter, and as we saw a few weeks ago here in Texas, anything can happen. Take steps to protect your property now before it’s too late.