We woke up earlier this week to a burst irrigation pipe. We did some work on it in the fall and then I forgot to bury it again. Now we have a small ice rink in the front yard. Apparently I should have turned off the water to the sprinklers and blown out the pipes when the weather got cold. I suspect there's a lot of repair work waiting for me in the spring.
The Weather Channel offers freezing weather tips at this link: http://www.weather.com/activities/homeandgarden/home/hometips/severeweather/snow_damage.html.
Taking a few hours to do preventative maintenance now can help save you the expense and hassle of water damage caused by ice dams and burst pipes. To prevent ice dams in your roof gutters, keep your attic well ventilated so it stays cold and make sure you have sufficient insulation on the attic floor to keep heat from rising.
You can purchase insulation sleeves or heat wrap for exposed pipes and you should always seal outside holes and cracks with caulk. Back in Atlanta, we usually let a slow trickle of water run if we were in the house or drained our pipes if we were away for the winter. I think I'll try that again, though I hate wasting the water. Another suggestion is keeping cabinet doors open in the kitchen, bathrooms, utility and laundry rooms so that warm air can get to the pipes.
Here's a good cold weather tip from Ruhenstroth neighbor Gary Swift: "The first winter we went below zero degrees our water system stopped working. The pump wasn't running, and I didn't hear or see water spraying, so I knew it wasn't a broken pipe. But when I checked the accumulator tank I noticed that the pressure was very low. The pressure-activated pump control switch was located at the top of a thin riser pipe, maybe 6 inches tall, connected to the main water line. The riser was freezing cold to the touch. I clamped a reflector work light (with hot old-fashioned incandescent bulb) to shine on the riser pipe. In a little while, the pump started again and pressurized the system back up to normal. Now, whenever the temperature is predicted to be very low at night (as it has been for the past week or so), I make sure that the work light is on all night."
This weather is exactly what I expected when we first thought of moving out here, but last year's mild winter had me bamboozled. Every morning I put on hat, gloves, scarf, ski pants and a heavy parka to walk the dogs and feed the chickens and even then I'm frozen by the time I come back inside. It doesn't seem to bother the wildlife though - the owl that perches on my telephone pole seems perfectly content on his high and windy perch each evening.
Reach Karen Brier at RuhenstrothRamblings@yahoo.com, or 790-0072.