Help Your House Survive The Cold Snap

Here’s what to do if the recent cold snap messes up your house.

• Frozen pipes: Soak towels in hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipe. Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. Turn on faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within pipes will prevent freezing. Monitor faucets for reduced water flow.
• Burst pipes Shut off the main valve and call a plumber.
• Furnace out: Call your service provider. Use an alternative heat source such as a wood stove or fireplace in the meantime. Do not use your stove/oven as a source of heat. This increases your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Away from home: Keep your temperature at least 65 degrees. Have someone check on your house regularly while you’re away.
• Cold air drafts: Caulk gaps in windows and doors or add weather stripping.

Derail the Siberian Express! — BEN POPKEN

[via Angieslist]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Now, there’s a good photo. *Brrr!*

    I don’t know what’s wrong with the heating where I live. The regular heat doesn’t work but ’emergency’ does.

  2. pestie says:

    Oh, that’s right! Some people live where it gets cold. I’m just north of Tampa, and around here, “frickin’ cold” is a 55-degree day. It does occasionally dip below freezing at night, but never for more than a few hours.

  3. acambras says:

    Aw, pestie, I’ve almost forgotten what 55 degrees feels like. :-(

  4. WindowSeat says:

    I’d love to see 55 degrees, it was -1 when I was shoveling the driveway this morning.

  5. Metschick says:

    Cold air drafts: Caulk gaps in windows and doors or add weather stripping

    When I got up this morning someone was working on our front door, doing this. The front door was letting in a monster draft, but the weather stripping is in and no more draft.

    Pestie: I’m going to Florida in a month, and I can’t wait. These last few days have been miserable.

  6. Hawkins says:

    Mr. Propagation:

    It’s likely that you have a heat pump. A heat pump works by extracting heat from the outside air and moving it into your house.

    When outdoor temperatures drop below about 38 degrees, there isn’t much heat to be extracted, and the heat pump isn’t much good. That’s when the “emergency” heat kicks in: a set of inefficient (but powerful) heating coils, like in a hair dryer.

    I dunno why they call it “emergency.” I would think “expensve” would be a more accurate label.

  7. any such name says:

    for personal heating and warmth, may i make the suggestion my grandmother made to me on the phone the other day:
    hot water bottle(s).
    sure, i looked like an old lady, but damn did that warm my feet up nice.

  8. LTS! says:

    Perhaps I’m crazy.. but when you are not home why keep your house at 65 degrees? That’s a tad high. I keep my house now at 65 degrees and I AM home.

    Also, you can use your oven if it’s electric, those generally do not give of carbon monoxide.

    If my pipes are freezing I don’t know what I am too keen on wrapping WATER around them. Hot water on a rag cools fast and creates more ice. I might start with increasing the ambient temps around the pipes first.

  9. homerjay says:

    Horray for entertaining pictures!! Keep ’em coming! These corporate logos and boring ol’ screenshots are getting old. Bring back the funny!

  10. chickymama says:

    I agree with LTS. The last thing you want to do with a frozen pipe is put hot wet towels around it. Growing up in Alaska where freezing pipes are the norm, opening the cabinet doors and letting warm air circulate will allow the pipe to unfreeze slowly without breaking it.

  11. mycroft2000 says:

    One important point to keep in mind is that just because your house might have a fireplace, that doesn’t mean it’s all ready for you to load it up with wood and spark it up. The flues may have been shut long ago, and fireplaces in many older houses may well have been sealed up by previous owners, so you should first make sure that any smoke will indeed go up and out, rather than into your lungs and upholstery.

  12. You know, it looks like the person in this picture is shoveling yet mysteriously his shovel has dissappeared just before scooping that first pile of snow. Damn gremlins.

  13. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    You forgot the last option: Move someplace warmer ( I keep thinking I should take that advice).

  14. alhypo says:

    Don’t worry. Everywhere will be warm soon enough…

  15. tmweber says:

    On the frozen pipes item, get a space heater that blows air and aim it at where the pipes come in the house. That’s how we got our pipes to unfreeze on Monday after it had gotten to -15 F the night before (Upper Peninsula of Michigan).

    Also, leave the faucets open to keep pressure flowing, it also makes an obvious noise when the pipes open back up.

    Just make sure, the sink the faucet is aiming at is draining. Had I not still been home when the pipes opened up, we would have had 5 hours of water in our kitchen and basement.