How can Georgia homeowners protect their pipes from freezing and keep their furnaces in good working order?
Though the plumbing pipes, heaters and furnaces of Georgia aren’t typically subject to too many nights below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and even fewer days are that cold, it is a little know fact that temperatures don’t have to get this low to cause a problem.
Pipes, especially those in older homes, have been known to freeze in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit - a temperature which is indeed common on many Southern winter, spring and fall nights. Some homeowners don’t know this and don’t think their pipes need to be insulated.
Protecting Your Pipes
The pipes in your home can be protected from freezing by caulking any holes or cracks in the nearby walls. Most experts recommend fitting insulating jackets over the pipes or wrapping them with electric heat tape. This requires the pipes to be fairly close to an outlet, for the tape is plugged in and its heat is controlled by the home’s thermostat.
On cold nights, it is also a good idea to open up the sink cabinets, allowing the warmer air of the room to circulate around the pipes to prevent freezing. Allowing your faucet drip slowly is a good idea too - as long as water is flowing, it won’t freeze.
Freezing temperatures present a special problem for people with vacation homes that are empty during the cold months. In such cases, the water should be turned off at the main shut-off valve, or the homeowner should call the water company and ask them to shut off water to their property.
Then, all the outlets should be turned on, starting at the top of the house. The power to the water heater should be turned off, and the water heater should be drained. The homeowner should also make sure there is an open outlet at the lowest point in the house such as the water heater in the crawl space. Some homes have valves that are made for the purpose of draining the house.
After this, all traps and cleanout plugs should be cleaned and replaced. Toilets should be flushed one last time. Some experts suggest adding a solution of antifreeze to traps and toilets and flushing them again, though the homeowner might want to consult with a professional before doing this - especially if they have a septic tank with bacteria that could be harmed by the antifreeze.
What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze
If the pipes freeze in your home, consider waiting until they thaw out as the day grows warmer. If you fear that the pipes are truly frozen solid and the day is going to remain cold, do not attempt to warm them artificially with heat lamps or hair dryers. These techniques might cause the pipes to burst and make the situation worse. Moreover, the frozen pipes may be behind a wall or in the crawl space. It’s best to call an emergency repair plumber if the pipes aren’t thawing out.
If the well pump has frozen overnight, a pot of steaming water set into the pump house for a few minutes usually does the trick.
Seasonal Furnace Maintenance
As for your furnace, it should be checked once a year by a residential HVAC technician - a professional who specializes in heating, ventilation and air conditioning repair and maintenance. It is always a good idea to have the number of a NATE-certified emergency HVAC professional just in case.
For more information about how to winterize pipes and maintain your furnace, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at Gagne Heating & Air Conditioning. Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, we deliver outstanding commercial and residential HVAC repair throughout the Atlanta area.