Winter has finally come to the Northwest after a long and mild Fall season. The time is right to make sure your property is ready for below freezing temperatures and the possibility of frozen pipes and water damage that may follow. Certainly water damage is a year round possibility as hot water fittings may fail, washing machine hoses may wear out and a dishwasher can lose its door seal, but winter weather is a major culprit in water damage to homes and businesses.
A simple preventative measure is to make sure that any garden hoses are disconnected from the outside water spigots. Every year we see numerous instances where water freezes in an outside spigot, causing a connection to break or a pipe to split inside the wall of a home or business. The thing about this type of break is that the actual shutoff is typically located about 18″ inside the wall and so when the line breaks it may not leak water right away. Often the damage occurs in the spring after the spigot is turned back on. A mysterious water damage occurs and it is only after some investigation that it is discovered that the leak only manifests itself when the water is turned on to the outside.
Often, especially in a second home or when people go on a winter vacation, temperatures in the house are put at a lower setting to save energy instead of heating an empty house. When the inside temperature of a home is set at, say, 55 degrees while the outside temperature is well below freezing, it may not freeze in the finished space inside a home, but inside the walls the temperatures may drop well below freezing and low enough for a water damage to occur. While it is tempting to try and save money by lowering inside temperatures, this can become a case of penny wise and pound foolish. The damage from a broken pipe running water into a home during an extended time a way can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
At the very least if someone is setting temperatures lower than typical in an unoccupied house, the doors to areas around sinks and fittings (in bathrooms or the kitchen should be left open to allow circulation of warmer air into these areas. Even a small fan to move air into that “dead spot” can help prevent freezing and the damage that accompanies it.
Water damage will happen from time to time, but the most obvious causes can often be avoided with a little planning.