We’re halfway through our long Michigan winter, but frozen pipes are still a real danger here as temps frequently drop below freezing outside, and they can cause serious damage to your plumbing. It’s not too late to take steps to make your home as insulated and efficient as possible. Here are some money-saving tips to keep your indoor pipes—and you—warm through these last few wintery months.
1. Don’t let precious warm air escape.
Your furnace is already working hard to warm up your home; don’t make it work harder than it needs to by letting out the warm air! If you have a wood fireplace, close the flue when not in use. An open flue provides a direct escape for the warm air in your house. Check your windows and doors for drafts, especially if they’re old. Stop drafts under doors by installing a door sweep or using a simple door snake.
Here’s a helpful article on weatherproofing your drafty windows: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-weatherproof-windows
2. Keep your home warm even when you leave.
You might be tempted to completely turn off the heat when you leave on vacation to save on your energy bill, but letting the temperature in your home drop below 50 degrees can lead to pipes freezing, and frozen pipes can burst and flood your home. The extra money you’ll spend to keep your furnace running while you’re gone is only a small price compared to the thousands it’d cost to repair broken plumbing and restore a flooded home. You don’t need to keep your thermostat at your usual temperature either; setting it somewhere between 50 and 60 will save energy and keep your pipes safe from freezing while you’re gone.
To save money when you are home, try keeping your thermostat a few degrees cooler. A simple change from 73 degrees to 70 degrees might take some getting used to, but could save you up to 10% on your heating bill.
3. Keep an eye on your water heater.
Hot water is a convenience in the hot summer, but it’s an absolute necessity in the cold winter months. Not only are freezing showers uncomfortable, they are dangerous to your health. It’s a good idea to check for leaks around your water heater every so often, and look for any other abnormalities, such as rust-tinged water. If you find any of these or you suspect something may be wrong, call an experienced plumber to inspect your water heater and fix any problems. Catching problems early is key to avoiding costly repairs or replacement down the road.
4. Take extra steps to prevent frozen pipes.
Besides maintaining the temperature of your home, there are a few simple things you can do to further keep your pipes from freezing:
- Open under-sink cabinet doors overnight to expose the pipes to your home’s warmer air.
- Insulate exposed pipes in colder areas of your home, such as your basement or crawl space.
- Locate your home’s primary water valve so you know where it is in case of an emergency.
If you think you may have frozen pipes, don’t ignore it. Yes, frozen pipes will thaw on their own eventually, but that will almost always lead to leaks and burst pipes because water expands when it freezes. If you suspect a pipe may be frozen in your home, turn off your home’s primary water shutoff valve and call a plumber immediately.
Signs you may have a frozen pipe:
- Visible frost on exposed pipes, such as the pipes under a sink
- Limited or no running water when you turn on a faucet
Don’t wait! If your water heater is giving you trouble or your pipes freeze (or worse), call Universal Plumbing at 586-416-4000. We have the tools, expertise, and experience to get everything working the way it should.