The latest temperature forecast for this Wednesday and Thursday is for record setting cold temps. With lows like these (and for the expected duration) many pipes will be expected to endure below design conditions—including commercial grade products. Therefore it's important to check your house and do the following:
- If you have bathrooms, kitchens or wash rooms that have plumbing on (or against) an exterior wall, open the cabinet doors wide and leave them that way through at least Friday. This pertains to plumbing in the basement that is more than 5’ above the floor, as well. If possible, make sure they are open to the basement ambient air. Again— it is important to do all this until at least Friday (especially during the night time hours).
- If you have garden hoses connected to any outdoor faucets—remove them. You may need a heat gun to do this now, but get it off the faucet, thaw the valve, and then open it after you have completed instructions in item number three.
- If you have outdoor hose faucets (hose bibs), and they do not have a frostless type valve on them (the valve handle outside will have “frostless”), there should be a valve in the basement—just before the pipe goes thru the wall to the outside. Shut that valve off inside, first. Then go outside and open the hose valve. Let it drain and then leave it open 25-50% of the way. If you have a frostless type, use the main valve to shut them all off.
- If you have large whirl pool tubes with access doors in your house, remove them now through Friday. They need to be open to house ambient air.
- If you have a crawl space with plumbing, you will want to heat the area through Friday.
- If you have had any trouble spots in the past—where pipes have frozen but did not burst—you need to take action to get heat or house ambient air to them. It's very likely they will burst after these temperatures roll through.
- If you have shut your basement registers off, or any spare rooms in your house, open them all up. You need to heat piping anywhere in your building, or at least expose it to house/building ambient air, until this passes. No joke!
- If you have zoned heat, raise the temp in your basement to a minimum of 68 degrees (preferably 70).
- If you have a cabin or cottage, do all of this —and THEN—if it is unoccupied, turn the heat up to 68 degrees and turn the water off! This way, if something does freeze, at your return you will see the leak right away before and catastrophic damage is experienced.
- Finally, remember if it froze, it will not leak water until the temperatures comes back to above freezing. Just because you don’t see any leaks during the low temperature span, it doesn't mean that damage hadn't occurred.
That’s all folks; just a word to the wise! I've never put anything out like this before—but these are 100 year temps!
Glenn Ver Murlen
President of Michigan Building & Mechanical Inc.
Certified Building Analyst, BPI
Licensed Mechanical Contractor
Licensed Boiler Installer
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