Winter in Colorado has certainly arrived. Wind, ice, snow, and freezing temperatures can all wreak havoc on our daily lives. We find ourselves carefully navigating our vehicles on a long commutes or we know how much more time it will take to tackle a normally quick errand trip around town. But don't forget that while we may feel the struggle of getting through a winter day, our homes may be suffering in silence. Usually it is too late before we detect some damage from winter's fury.

Here are some facts that may motivate you to be proactive and protect your most expensive asset, your home, this winter. According the Colorado AAA, "Freezing temperatures can burst both plastic and copper pipes, and an 1/8-inch crack can spew up to 250 gallons of water per day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the potential for mold. Recovery can be difficult and costly."  The Colorado AAA website provides some excellent tips that may help you avoid a disaster. 

  1. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in an area where freezing temperatures are unlikely.
  2. Seal leaks around pipes that allow cold air inside. You also should look for air leaks around electrical wiring, clothes dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out.
  3. Disconnect garden hoses. If possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance that pipes inside the house will freeze.
  4. If a freeze is expected, consider allowing warm water to drip slightly overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall. Even a slight trickle may keep your pipes from freezing.
  5. When there is the possibility of a freeze, don’t turn down the thermostat at bedtime. Instead, maintain the same setting day and night.
  6. Open cabinet doors, allowing heat to reach uninsulated pipes located under sinks.

If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, your pipes are likely frozen. Learn more about safe, effective methods to defrosting frozen pipes here.  Should you experience the misfortune of discovering your water pipes have burst, remember to turn off the water at the main shutoff valve and be sure to keep all the home's water faucets turned on, and, of course call a plumber. I recommend that you show every member of your household, who are old enough to stay home alone, where the water shut-off valve is located in the home, and how it works. (Photo credit to Westchester Magazine).

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