Well we made it through the cold, but unfortunately many of us are still dealing with the damage caused by busted pipes. The conditions we experienced in the area were record breaking. The chances of it happening again soon are small, but just in case there are a few thing you can do short of re-plumbing your home to help avoid frozen pipes and give you some peace of mind in through the next freeze.
During this winter event our exposed pipes(the water softener loop) in our unheated garage made it through without any problems. I accidentally left in a jug of water I use on my plants in the garage and it froze solid so I know the temperatures were cold enough to freeze any exposed pipes, but a very inexpensive tip I learned over the years(the hard way) I believe save our pipes.
Having spent years living in the Northeast, freezing pipes were very common. There are many remedies but one of the easiest and lest expensive I found was “Heat Tape” and pipe insulation. Now, if the electric goes out the heat tape stops working but if the pipes are wrapped with insulation on top of the heat tape you still have a better chance than doing nothing at all.
Heat tape is basically like a heating pad for you pipes. You attach the long plastic tape which contains a low temperature heating element to you exposed pipes and then wrap insulation around the pipe and the tape. The end of the tape has a plug that plugs into a standard wall receptacle . The best heaters have a temperature sensor on them and only turn on when it senses temperatures low enough for the pipes to freeze so it can remain plugged in all year round but will only draw power when the need arises. I have included several links to sources for “Heat Tape” and Insulation below. The installation is easy so anyone can do it. The heat tape is less then $2.00 per foot and the insulation is around $0.25 per foot. Compared the cost of replacing a frozen pipe and water damage caused by the pipe bursting not to mention the inconvenience of have your water turned off until a plumber is available it is not a bad deal. Some plumbers will install the heat tape for a fee but it will cast a lot less then replacing burst pipes. If you are adding an emergency generator to your home it would be a good idea to add the circuit that the heat tape is plugged into to the circuits you are going to support or run a good heavy duty extension cord to the heat tape from the generator.
Here are several sources for the materials and as always please consider purchasing the materials locally to support our local businesses.
Amazon.com link for heat tape.
Amazon.com link for pipe Insulation
Walmart link for heat tape
Walmart link for pipe insulation
Home Depot link for heat tape
Home Depot link for pipe insulation