Last year, the state of Georgia was hit with unusually cold weather. In the month of January, temperatures frequently dropped below freezing. Nationally, people referred to this as the “polar vortex,” a particularly cold weather front which has caused bitter low temperatures throughout the East coast. Such cold is not only unpleasant, but also potentially dangerous.
In the month of January alone, more than $75 million worth of property damage in the state of Georgia has been attributed to the brutally cold temperatures. Extremely cold temperatures like the ones Georgia has seen over the last month can cause internal damage to property, often in the form of water damage caused by leaking or burst pipes. As many as 34 of Georgia’s state facilities reported damage caused by burst pipes after the January 28, 2014 winter storm rolled through.
The Georgia Department of Administrative Services’ Risk Management division has several suggestions on how to deal with the cold weather and effectively protect property from damage:
- Temperatures under 20 degrees are considered “threatening,” and you should begin exercising caution when temperatures drop to or below this level
- Pipes located in attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls are most susceptible to freezing temperatures, and should be monitored carefully during cold times
- Pipes located near electrical outlets often have much more cold air flowing towards them
- When building a new house or construction, pipes should ideally only be placed near warm spaces, and should be kept away from “attics, crawl spaces, and outside walls.”
- A plumber can potentially re-route pipes and place them near warmer areas, which is an especially appealing option in older houses or facilities
- If pipes cannot be moved, you can place more insulation onto them to protect them. Different forms of pipe insulation can be bought at most hardware stores
- If pipes are exposed to cold air through any holes in the walls, these holes should be filled up and protected as best as possible
- Turning on a faucet during extremely cold times can help break the pressure that pipes have. Even just allowing the faucet to drip a small bit can prevent the pipe from bursting.
- If a pipe has already burst, it is important to call a plumber and to immediately turn off the water flow at the main water valve.
- For those going on vacation or leaving their homes, it is important to keep your house at a moderate temperature. If a house is too cold, it may be more susceptible to freezing pipes.
And remember to take care of yourself as well as your property when the temperature drops below freezing!