Happy New Year! We’re off to a chilly start for 2018, so let’s review some tips from your San Marcos plumbing experts on dealing with rapidly dropping temps. Your pipes, pets, and plants are particularly vulnerable on cold nights — give them the special care they need to keep them happy and safe!
Burst pipes mean costly repairs, and we’re betting your new year’s resolutions didn’t include spending money on a problem you could have prevented. Keep your taps dripping, open cabinet doors to let warm air circulate, and add a space heater (review our tips for safe use) when it’s particularly cold. If you’ll be away from home, even for an extended period of time, don’t shut off your heat. Turn it down to save on energy costs, but make sure the inside temperature stays at or above 55 degrees. For easily accessible pipes, pipe sleeves, heat cables, or heating tape might be a good idea. If you haven’t stocked up on these items prior to a cold front, try wrapping pipes in newspaper to add some extra insulation — it could make all the difference!
If pipes do freeze (you’ll know this is the case if you get only a trickle of water when you turn the faucet), try thawing them using a heated pad or hairdryer (never use an electrical appliance while wet or standing in water). Start at the area closest to the faucet and work towards the coldest part of the pipe. Continue heating the pipes until your water pressure returns to normal. Never use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or any other open flame to thaw a pipe. (We promise, setting your house on fire is going to be an even more costly repair than a burst pipe.)
If you know a freeze is on the way, water well in the days leading up to it. Wet soil freezes more slowly than dry, and the extra moisture keeps plants hydrated through the cold. (Succulents are the exception to this rule as they don’t like excess water.) Bring potted plants inside for the night, and cover beds with light cotton fabric. Add a layer of plastic on top of the fabric if it’s particularly chilly. Remove covers as early as possible the next day, before condensation builds up, and allow your plants to soak in whatever sunlight is available.
There’s no two ways about it: you must bring your pets inside on cold nights. Very young or elderly animals, animals in poor health, and all short-haired animals should be brought inside whenever the temperature drops below 40 degrees (some dogs are bred to withstand cold climates, but no animals should be left outside when the temperature is below freezing.) And think beyond your own pets — feral cats love to curl up underneath warm car hoods; if they have access to yours, bang on the hood before starting the engine to avoid causing injuries.
Take the appropriate steps to keep your pets, plants, and pipes safe this winter. And if you do run into trouble with a burst pipe, contact your San Marcos plumbing experts to assess the damage and get started on repairs.