If you own investment property, you should be aware that the pipes at your property could be vulnerable to freezing. Many mistakenly believe that this is a phenomenon only those in typically cold climates have to worry about. However, the homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because the pipes may not be correctly insulated against such frigid temperatures.
Frozen pipes are a problem by themselves, but even worse, frozen pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. The good news is, there are some steps you can take to help prevent this problem from occurring when the temperatures drop.
Keep the Heat On
If you or your tenants are leaving for a period of time, make sure that the heat is kept on at your property. It may be difficult to convince your tenants to leave their heat on when they are away, especially if they are responsible for paying their own utilities. You should inform them that the heat can help prevent pipes from freezing, and if pipes freeze and burst, it can cause a lot of water damage to the property and to their possessions.
The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually at the property, but keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent the water inside from freezing.
Allow Faucet to Drip
If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to be open like this will alleviate pressure in the system. Once a pipe freezes, it is actually pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst, so allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, the pipe from bursting.
Keep Interior Doors Open
Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.
Seal Up Cracks and Holes
You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out.
Apply Heating Tape
For pipes that are easily accessible, electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing. This tape can be applied directly to the pipe.
There are two types of heating tape. There is a type of heating tape that turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed and another type of heating tape that needs to be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use. Much like a space heater, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.
Add Extra Insulation
Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in your home, extra insulation may be the cure.
Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. This can be an easy solution for pipes that are exposed, but can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings have to be opened in order to properly insulate the pipe. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.