Got Freezing Pipes?

frozen water pipesIt’s been a brisk month here in Raleigh, North Carolina with temperatures dipping into the 20’s and teens late into the evening.

Experienced homeowners know there are some key factors to consider in pipe preparation, and duties to perform before going to bed on a cold night.  How do experienced homeowners know what to do?  Unfortunately it’s often because we’ve suffered the consequences… and have vowed never to make those same mistakes twice.

Waking up after a frigid night with no hot water (or water at all) is an inconvenience at best, and is often costly.

So, let’s start with emergency situations…

Frozen Pipes

How do I know if my home water pipes are frozen?

If temperatures are below 32° F and your faucets are turned to open… but you’re only getting a trickle of water (or nothing), there is a good chance you have a frozen pipe.  If only one or the other of hot/cold flows this is another indication.  Frozen pipes often occur in crawl spaces, against exterior walls, and where water connects through the foundation.

What should I do if I have frozen water pipes?

If your residential water pipes are frozen – keep your faucets open.  As ice begins to melt, any flowing water that can get through will help to melt ice within the pipe.

Warm your pipes with an electric hair dryer in the areas most susceptible to freezing (crawlspaces, exterior walls, and around the foundation).  The American Red Cross offers additional ideas on how to warm pipes.  Applying heat to the right locations will help thaw the pipe to restore full water pressure.

Look out for cracks and burst pipes!  Water pipes tend to crack down the long side of a pipe.  If your pipes are still frozen you may not be aware yet that your pipe has a crack.  As the ice in a burst or cracked pipe thaws and flow is restored, water will find the point of least resistance and you could have a real mess on your hands.

What should I do if I have a crack or break in my water pipe?

If you see or suspect a cracked pipe:

  • 1st:  Go to the main shut-off valve and turn off the water.
  • 2nd:  Leave the faucets on to relieve pressure.
  • 3rd:  Call a licensed plumber.

How do I keep my water pipes from freezing?

We have our fingers crossed that you’re just researching preventative information and are not in an emergency situation.  If this is the case – congratulations!  We hope you’ll never have to experience cracked pipes.

Experts recommend avoiding frozen pipes by:Prevent water pipes from freezing

  • Insulating exposed pipes by wrapping or by using insulation sleeves.
  • Caulking any cracks and holes near your water pipes around the foundation and outside walls.
  • Allow water to flow from each valve at a slow trickle through faucets, bathtubs and showers that have pipes connected through an unheated space.
  • Keeping under sink cabinet doors open (kitchens, bathrooms and possibly the laundry room or bar area).  This allows warm air to circulate around the pipes.

* If you’re going on vacation and your home will be vacant during a cold period, consider draining the water system to avoid water damage caused by cracked pipes.

I need an expert, who should I call?

If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, we work with and recommend licensed plumbers with Cary Plumbing.  We’ve experienced exceptional customer service and quality work with them.  We hope this helps.

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in or around Wake County we’d love an opportunity to talk with you.  It is our goal to be our clients #1 resource for all things home buying and selling in the Triangle.

Stay warm out there!

Winterizing your home ~ Southern Style…

Time to prepare for winter too

Home winterizing ~ southern style

Well we’re full fledged into fall as we turned our calendars to November –  as summer slowly creeps away from us and we watch squirrels dashing around like crazy...  We start to change our attitudes and our daily routines.  It’s a time to start to think about getting ready and winterizing your home

Now living in Raleigh NC and getting ready for winter is nothing like what we did up in Montreal.  Up north there’s a lot more home winterizing and hunkering down than here.  One thing we all remember is bringing in the wood and cording it for the wood stove to keep us warm.

But there are still some customs that we go through. Like sorting through winter clothes we bring out of storage and deciding which we’ll be able to use in the coming months and which would be better given to goodwill.

Then there’s the let’s see how long we can hold out before turning on the heat!!  I usually win that one as I’m the hot blooded one in our family…

There are some good tips that we would be frugal in heeding even here in the south to winterize a house.  So I thought I’d share some thoughts of things to do as you’re getting ready to settle in for a long winters nap…  oh – sorry I was getting carried away there..

Hope you enjoy the coming months – it’s my favorite time of the year!

Thoughts & tips on getting ready for winter & winterizing your home


  • Check battery-powered equipment – flashlight(s), portable radio and/or TV. Keep additional, fresh batteries for each.
  • Have your furnace checked. Check heating fuel supplies. Do not allow fuel to get low because, in snowy or icy weather, fuel carriers may not be able to reach you.
  • Check attic and basement insulation
  • Caulk or weather-strip doors and windows. Make sure windows are closed and sealed tightly
  • Clean registers, vents and duct openings
  • Keep some sand or ice-melting stuff on hand
  • Have alternate heating source – fireplace, wood stove, space heater. Equipment should be approved for indoor use. **Properly ventilate room and use strict fire safety measures.
  • Have fireplace cleaned/serviced by a professional before use.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from any combustible materials, including drapes, carpeting and furniture.
  • Do not drape gloves, socks, or other clothing over a space heater to dry.
  • Keep children and pets away from heating equipment.
  • Fuel-filled equipment should be filled outdoors when completely cooled.
  • Have a fire extinguisher near each heating source.
  • Assemble an emergency supplies kit (enough for at least three days) remember to include:
  1. Extra supplies of high energy food and food requiring no cooking or refrigeration (Suggestion for canned foods: 10 cans per person)
  2. Non-electric can opener
  3. Bottled water (one gallon per person per day)
  4. Extra warm clothing
  5. Extra blankets or sleeping bags
  6. First aid kit, including all essential medications

We love our milder North Carolina winters…  one of the benefits of living in the south.  But winterizing your home, getting ready for the cooler season, and being practical about our preparations takes priority this time of the year even in the South!

Do you have home winterizing routines or tips that you could share with us?  We’d love to hear about them…  and if you’re planning on buying or selling a home in the next couple of months we’ll be ready to show ways to buy a house, even in the winter!