Frozen pipes are a serious matter here in the mountains. With many second homes up here, its easy to forget about freezing temperatures if you’re away enjoying the sunny Caribbean. Fortunately, this photo is not of a Creston property, but a poor fellow elsewhere. When temperatures get below freezing and stay there, it doesn’t take long for water pipes to freeze. You may recall from Eighth Grade Science class that freezing water expands. When you have water in pipes that freezes, it can crack the pipes and once the frozen water thaws, it gushes out of the crack. If you’re not there to catch it, your house could end up like the one in the photo if it refreezes.
There’s an easy solution, and that is to keep the heat around at least 50 degrees inside, open cabinet doors under sinks and leave a faucet on a slow drip. You may even leave a light on inside your crawl space. If you use propane as your heat source, make sure you have plenty on hand. A thermostat set on 55 degrees won’t do you any good if you run out of propane! Likewise, you’ll want to make sure the exhaust vent to your heating system doesn’t freeze over. What’s that mean?
Propane heat creates condensation which is blown outside the house, typically through a PVC pipe in the foundation wall. If you’re not careful, that condensation can freeze and block the exhaust line. When that happens, the furnace will cut off automatically. How do I know this? Because it happened to me! Fortunately, I was at home and when I awoke to an inside temperature of 50 degrees, I knew something was wrong. A strategically placed exterior flood light on an extension cord did the trick in preventing it in the future.
So stay warm and remember to watch the thermometer this time of year. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”