How to keep pipes from freezing in Alaska homes

Extreme temperatures outside can cause scary inside problems – like frozen pipes, especially during the long winter months here in Alaska. In fact, frozen pipes usually lead to a lot more than just losing water pressure. Frozen pipes can quickly turn into burst pipes, which can then result in flooding and extensive water damage. Adding to that, when water damage isn’t treated, it can result in harmful mold problems.

As temperatures plummet well below the zero mark, the risk of pipes freezing and bursting skyrockets. In fact, broken water pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during freezing weather and can cause thousands of dollars in damage for homes.

We know this is a big issue homeowners here in the Anchorage and Eagle River area need to watch out for, so we’re sharing a few tips that will help keep water running and homes safe and dry.

Protect Exposed Pipes

First, check on pipes that are the most at-risk such as the ones that are exposed in unheated areas like garages, attics, crawl spaces, and under kitchen or bathroom cabinets. For pipes in the garage, it can be as simple as keeping the door closed as much as possible to keep the heat in. In addition to that, another easy trick for protecting exposed pipes is to insulate them with foam pipe insulation, pipe sleeves or heat tape. For pipes that are more susceptible to freezing, you can use thermostatically controlled heat tape that will heat up when temps dips below certain levels. Insulating these spaces will also go a long way toward protecting your pipes from freezing, as well as sealing around windows, doors, and other openings throughout the areas.

Run Water Regularly

When extreme cold spells hit and you’re worried about the pipes, a tried-and-true practice is to leave water running at a slow, constant drip. Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing. Yes, your water bill might be slightly higher, but it’s much better than the thousands of dollars you’ll have to pay a plumber to find and fix burst pipes and wood or mold damage that they cause.

Don’t Skimp on Heat

Keeping your home at an even temperature is another good way to keep your pipes functioning properly. Don’t turn the heat way down at night while you sleep, you might be leaving exposed pipes under the house in danger of freezing.

For those who like to travel or spend the winter in warmer locations, you might be tempted to turn off the heat to save money for the weeks or months you are away. Don’t! Set your home’s thermostat no lower than 55 degrees and arrange to have someone come by and check on your house and for broken pipes once in awhile. The few dollars you might save on your utility bill will be nothing compared to the high cost of repair for frozen, busted pipes.

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