The rare Charleston freeze is something that most dont consider until it's too late. So, with one snow storm under our belt and another possible, make sure you prep a little to avoid a big unnecessary expense to your home:
1. Pipe insulation
Your pipes are more susceptible to freezing damage when temperatures drop to 20 degrees or below. Pipe insulation provides your first line of defense against cold temperatures and frozen pipes. If you live in Charleston you know this isn’t the norm, but many older homes tend to lack any form of insulation especially in crawl spaces w/ old copper piping. I’d take extra caution and Insulate the pipes in all unheated areas, as they are most likely to freeze. A hardware or plumbing supply store should have the insulation and tools you need. Wrap the pipes in insulation tubes. Measure the outside diameter of your pipes to make sure you purchase the correct size of tube. Take extra care with pipes that have frozen during previous winters or have been repaired in the last 12 months, as these pipes are more susceptible to damage. Wrapping pipes in heat-tape prior to insulating adds an extra layer of protection, but make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions when using heat-tape to avoid damage.
2. Keep a dripping faucet
On days when the temperature is expected to drop below freezing, turn on faucets along the exterior walls to create a small, steady drip. This eliminates pressure that can build between the faucet and an ice blockage, so even if a pipe freezes, it may not burst.
3. Open cabinets
You can stop frozen pipes by introducing more heat. Open all sink-based cabinet doors along exterior walls to allow more heat to reach the pipes
4. Fix exterior cracks
Note any cracks or holes along the outside walls and foundation of your home. Filling holes and cracks with spray foam insulation and caulking can help stop the cold air from coming into contact with your water pipes during extremely cold weather.
5. Seal off crawl space
Pier and beam homes with ventilated crawl spaces should be sealed against the cold weather. Cover your vents with heavy-duty pieces of cardboard cut to fit the vents, duct taping the cardboard in place. Don't forget to seal off access to the crawl space. Check for worn or missing insulation around garage and utility doors. Reducing the amount of cold air in the area minimizes your pipes' vulnerability to freezing.