January 7, 2015
The weatherman predicts unseasonably cold temperatures over the next couple days – lows into the teens! – so we’d like to share a few simple suggestions on how to take precautions in your Greenville SC home.

Protect Your Pipes
One of the most common problems during cold snaps is freezing pipes. If you live in an Addison-built house with a central shutoff for the exterior faucets or “hose bibs,” turn the valve to the “off” position (handle should be perpendicular to the direction of flow) and open all of the faucets on the outside of your home. This will prevent outside faucets from freezing.

Also, Addison homes are built with PEX plumbing piping, which will expand if frozen, minimizing the likelihood of bursting.

All homeowners should take the following steps prevent extreme weather from harming pipes:

* A trickle of water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.

* Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature – more common overnight – could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.

* Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.

If your pipes do freeze, the first step is to not panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:

* If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.

* If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).

* You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with the warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe. (DO NOT use electrical appliances in areas of standing water: You could be electrocuted.)

* NEVER try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!

If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on.

Stay Warm … Wisely
Another note for Addison Homes clients with heat pumps: your unit may make strange noises outside as it cycles between defrost mode and heat pump mode. You may also notice the “auxiliary heat” light on the thermostat. Each of these is perfectly normal in cold outdoor temperatures.

Other stay-warm tips include:

* Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. But even if you will be away during cold weather, leave the temperature set to no lower than 55ºF.

* Be cautious with auxiliary heating devices. Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.

FEMA also recommends the following precautions: 
* Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold. If you must go outside, watch for signs of frostbite such as loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities (fingers, toes, ear lobes, tip of the nose). If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.

* Also watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

* Dress in layers and keep dry.

* Check on family, friends, and neighbors who may need additional assistance.

* Bring pets indoors or ensure they have warm shelter.

* Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight – and keep the fuel tank above half full.

Click here for more information and tips on being ready for winter weather and extreme cold temperatures.

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