Tag Archives: home maintenance

Burst Pipes! Preventing, Thawing & Fixing

Brrr, what a cold snap!

Picture_Whalen Blizzard (7)

Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.

To Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
  • If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
  • Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
  • Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
  • For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
  • Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
  • Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
  • Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
  • SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.

To Thaw Frozen Pipes

Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.

  • If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
  • If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
  • If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
  • SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!

What to do with Burst Pipes

First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.

  • Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
  • Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
  • Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
  • If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
  • If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
  • Call your insurance company and report the claim.

Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.

Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!

December Home Maintenance

Decorations, strolls, carols, parties, football and the start of winter weather – December sure has a lot going on! We’ve simplified this month’s maintenance to-do list so that you can focus on the beauty of this special time of year. From our big Whalen Restoration Services family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Bulb

  1. Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Unpack and test all electrical holiday decorations. Repair or discard any that do not function properly.
  3. Review the family fire escape and emergency plans with every household member.
  4. Check your fire extinguisher’s expiration date and the gauge to ensure that it is fully charged.
  5. Check that there is still insulation around all exterior pipes and make sure that water cannot seep under the insulation.
  6. Detail clean your dishwasher, trash compactor and countertop appliances.
  7. Clean your range hood and either clean or replace the filter.

Printable version: December Home Maintenance Checklist

November Home Maintenance

We can smell the Turkey already! Within the hustle and bustle of planning your Thanksgiving holiday celebrations and Black Friday shopping lists, work in these maintenance items to stay on top of your game.

November Colors

  • Daylight savings ends this month. Replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you change your clocks.
  • Shut off outdoor water spouts and empty hoses for storage.
  • Make sure everyone in the household knows where the main water shut-off is and how to use it.
  • Drain or stabilize the fuel from your gas powered lawn equipment that you won’t be using for the winter season and test your winter equipment.
  • Inspect your automatic garage door opener and lubricate it according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Reprogram your thermostats for the winter season and reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.
  • Clean your refrigerator inside and out removing all food, shelves, trays and old ice from the ice maker. Replace the baking soda.
  • Restock and update your severe weather emergency kit. Check expiration dates on first aid and supplies.
  • Back-up your computer files either on the cloud or on an external hard drive that you keep in a weather tight place.

Printable Version: November Home Maintenance Checklist

October Home Maintenanace

Boo! Did I scare you? No? Well, these maintenance items aren’t so scary either. We’ll stick to providing good home maintenance advice and leave the scaring to the trick-or-treaters, haunted houses and horror films. Happy pumpkin spice EVERYTHING season!

Picture_Fall_Leaves

  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • If you haven’t already done it from our June list, have your chimneys and wood stoves swept and inspected by a professional.
  • Add extra insulation to any exposed pipes in unfinished rooms that may drop below 65˚F.
  • Vacuum and clean dust from vents, baseboard heaters and cold-air returns.
  • Clean your windows and if they aren’t double pane replace screens with storm windows.
  • Once the leaves have fallen clear your gutters and downspouts. Consider replacing old gutters with new ones that include built-in leaf guards.
  • Clear your lawn of all debris from trees and shrubs. If the health of a tree looks questionable contact a tree professional and consider having it removed.
  • Check your windows and doors for air leaks and apply weather stripping and caulk where needed. Incense is a great tool for identifying the source of drafts. Don’t forget the basement!

Printable version: October Home Maintenance Checklist

September Home Maintenanace

School is in session! You may not have classes to attend but we do have some easy projects for you. Tackle these maintenance items now and enjoy recess for the rest of the month!

School Supplies 3

  • Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Have your heating system serviced and stock up on filters for heating season so that you have enough to change them every 4-6 weeks.
  • Visually inspect your exterior foundation, roof and siding for cracks, gaps and missing/loose shingles. Calk and seal as necessary.
  • Be on the lookout for season-end close-out sales on lawn and garden equipment.
  • Do any interior painting, carpet cleaning or carpet replacement while it is still warm enough to have the windows open.
  • Remove all paints, caulks and liquid materials from your garage or shed.
  • Check that the soil around your foundation slopes 4-6 inches for a distance of 3 feet from the foundation walls. If it doesn’t regrade the lawn.
  • Check your sump pump. Remove any debris and dirt from your sump pit, make sure the discharge line is free of obstructions and test the pump by pouring water into it. If it doesn’t pump out call a plumber for service.

Printable version: September Home Maintenance Checklist