Preventing Frozen Pipes: 10 Tips for Residents and Businesses
As we anticipate several days of below freezing temperatures, it's crucial to be proactive in preventing extensive damage caused by frozen pipes. Here are ten strategies that both residents and businesses can use to proactively prevent the threat of frozen pipes:
- Regular Inspections: Routine visual inspections are the first line of defense. Inspect all water pipes for leaks or damage. Even inaccessible pipes behind walls can show signs, like leaking, indicating a problem that needs attention.
- Identify and Drain Exposed Pipes: In addition to outdoor systems, assess pipes in transitional areas like crawlspaces and uninsulated enclosures. Consider insulation upgrades to those areas and be sure to drain exposed pipes before freezing temperatures set in. This includes outdoor systems like sprinklers and water pipes in unheated buildings such as storage facilities.
- Maintain Fire Suppression Systems: Ensure fire suppression systems are inspected and serviced annually by a fire protection contractor. If you have a dry pipe fire suppression system, make certain the air compressor is properly operating and water hasn’t entered the sprinkler lines.
- Schedule Pre-Winter Maintenance: Go beyond sealing cracks and bolstering insulation. Collaborate with HVAC experts to optimize heating systems, ensuring consistent warmth throughout the building. Consider weatherizing measures and door and window upgrades for added protection.
- Provide Heat for Exterior-Wall Pipes: Ensure that there is an adequate heat supply for water lines along exterior walls. Short-term measures like leaving interior doors open and allowing faucets to drip can alleviate pressure. Long-term solutions involve adding insulation or heat tape. A holistic approach ensures sustained warmth and minimizes the risk of freezing.
- Be Proactive About Cold Weather Checks: In extreme cold, conduct periodic temperature checks in vulnerable areas, like riser rooms, basements, and exterior wall pipes. Engage maintenance teams in regular walkthroughs to identify and address temperature fluctuations promptly. If unseasonably cold temperatures are forecasted, take measures to prevent frozen pipes by removing a few ceiling tiles to let warm air circulate above the ceiling where domestic water lines or fire sprinkler pipes are present.
- Implement Monitoring Systems: Consider integrating smart monitoring systems that provide real-time temperature updates and alerts. These systems oversee building temperatures and heating systems and can signal pipe or valve breakages, offering remote alerts so you can take prompt action.
- Be Prepared with Backup Power Sources: Invest in backup power systems with automated fail safes. These systems ensure continuous heating to prevent pipe damage during power outages and HVAC system failures.
- Maintain Minimum Temperatures: Monitor building temperatures to ensure that they remain at least 55 degrees during freezing conditions. Note that exterior wall temperatures will be colder than the interior.
- Document Maintenance: Maintain comprehensive records of maintenance activities, identify weak spot and implement solutions. Documenting vulnerabilities ensures that they are protected and will be checked in the future, even if new personnel take over.
By implementing these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the costly risks associated with frozen pipes.
Stay warm and safe!