The holiday season is here, and Nashville weather is unpredictable. One question we are often asked is “what’s the best way to keep my pipes from freezing.” There are a few easy steps you can take before you leave for vacation that can minimize the risk of damage to your home in the event of freezing temperatures.

Six Simple Steps Before Leaving on Vacation:

  1. Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine, ice makers and all sinks and toilets. If you are leaving for an extended period of time, turn off your water at the main valve. You may need a water key to do this. Make sure to flush water out of the toilets so the tanks are as empty as possible. This can prevent the porcelain from cracking if your pipes freeze.
  2. Put your water heater in vacation mode. Most newer water heaters have a setting on the temperature dial labeled “VAC” or “VACATION.” This mode drops your water heater’s temperature to conserve energy while you’re not home to use your hot water.
  3. If you have a sump pump, check that it is working. Dump a bucket of water into the sump pump. If it turns on, terrific. If it doesn’t, call your plumber.
  4. Set your thermostat to a temperature closer to outside temps (warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter). This will also save on your heating and cooling bill while you are away.
  5. Unplug small, non-essential appliances and electronics, including computers.
  6. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.

Four Steps to Thaw Frozen Pipes:

If you come home to frozen pipes, use these four steps.

  1. Open the faucet and leave it open. The frozen pipe and other frozen areas will start to melt, and water will soon flow through the frozen area. As the water runs it will help the ice that’s in the pipe melt. Frozen pipes are usually found against exterior walls, or where the water service enters your home through the foundation.
  2. Beginning with the section closest to the faucet, apply heat to the pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or by wrapping the pipe with towels and then pouring hot water over them (you will want to put a bucket under the towel to catch the runoff water). Do not use an open flame to thaw the pipes.
  3. Continue with heat application until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area cannot be reached, or if the pipe will not thaw, call a licensed plumber.
  4. Check all other faucets to be sure there are no other frozen pipes.

Turn off the main water supply to the house if you see any cracks in the pipe. Close all faucets and call your plumber.

Actions to take if you come home to a burst pipe:

If you come home to a burst pipe, act as quickly as possible. A timely reaction will help minimize damage.

  • Go to your water main and shut off the water immediately. If you’re unsure where to find the water shut-off valve, look inside and outside of your home a couple feet up from ground level. Crawlspaces, basements and garages are other places to look for the shut-off valve.
  • Open your faucets and flush your toilets (multiple times if needed) to drain any remaining water.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and take proper steps to avoid electrical shock from being in or near water.
  • Assess the damage as best you can and take an inventory of any damaged property or possessions. Take as many photographs as you can for insurance purposes. Take your pictures horizontally so you can show more of the affected area, and make sure your photos are in focus. This helps restoration technicians and insurance adjustors get a broader view of the area and they can zoom in to see any detail.
  • Call Blue Chip Restoration at 615-832-5300. Our water restoration technicians follow IICRC standards for water mitigation. We will walk you through the restoration process and next steps to take.
  • Call a licensed plumber. They will assess the cause, make a recommendation for repair, and fix the problem.

We hope you have a safe holiday season, but should you experience a water or fire damage, Blue Chip Restoration provides 24/7 emergency response service for your home and commercial property. Call us at 615-832-5300.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!