5 tips to prep your home for cold temperatures

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - With temperatures expected to go down into the 20s next week and snow possible, experts say that now is the time to prepare your home. There are several low-cost or free things you can do to protect your home, helping you save hundreds, even thousands of dollars in repair.

1. Insulate your pipes and faucets and towels may not be the best long-term option.

"The water inside the faucet will freeze, and then when the weather warms up, it's still frozen. You'll have pressure (on the faucet), and so (the metal) will crack," said James York, owner of Southern Plumbing.

Pipe insulation materials, faucet covers and slip-on faucet protectors are all recommended ways to keep the pipes warm. You can find them at any local hardware stores.

"I do not recommend using towels because they hold moisture and then it'll rust out your fixtures...and may make them crack," said Sergio Palmero, with Southern Plumbing.

Palmero said while using towels for a day or two is OK, using them throughout the year can cause damage.

Inside, insulate pipes found within 3 feet from an exterior wall.

2. Turn off your sprinkler system and make sure the backflow preventer is drained.

"Know where you black flow or your vacuum system for your irrigation system is," York said. "It's best to just turn it off."

"If your backflow preventer is not drained, then your pipes may break," said Stone Shi, who manages Home Depot.

3. Experts say you can try your hair dryer if pipes freeze.

Obviously, safety comes first. Experts said, if you can locate the part of the pipe that is frozen, you can try to thaw it with a hairdryer. 

"A lot of times I'll get calls from homeowners and the faucet won't turn on, so what I tell them to do is turn the faucet on. If you can get into the attic and find the pipes to whatever faucet it is and use a blowdryer, then you'll save yourself a lot of money from the pipes busting," York said.

Experts do not suggest using any type of fire to thaw frozen pipes.

4. If you live in an old home, keep your faucet lightly dripping.

York said that older homes were built to a different code. People with older homes should leave their faucets lightly dripping to prevent water from freezing inside pipes.

5. Take your plants inside or cover and water them

"When temperatures are below 32, then flowery plants tend to die," Shi said. "You can get plant blankets to keep plants safe from the cold air."

Watering your plants before it gets cold will also help. 

"The water underground is warmer and so watering your plants can help keep the plant warm," Shi said.

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