Elsa may love it, but you could end up hating it if you don't protect your home from an extended freeze. Here are the top items to address when expecting a hard freeze for an extended period of time...
1. LOCATE YOUR WATER METER
Invest in a meter key (or keep an adjustable wrench handy), so you'll be able to shut off the water at the meter, should the shut-off valve ever fail you. Then, practice turning the water on and off, so you'll know how it's done.
Note: Your city may have regulations against shutting off the water yourself. If so, keep the water department's emergency number handy, so you'll be able to report problems quickly.
2. KNOW WHERE YOUR WATER SHUT OFF VALVE IS, AND KEEP IT ACCESSABLE
Should a water line ever freeze and burst, you will need to shut off the home's water supply immediately. If junk is blocking easy access to your main water shut valve off, rearrange your basement or garage so that it will be easily accessible in the event of a plumbing emergency. Then, make sure the shut-off valve is in good working order. Turning the valve handle all the way clockwise should shut off all water to the house. If the valve is rusted open or only closes partially, replace the main shut-off valve immediately—this is usually a job for a professional plumber.
Go a step further, and make sure everyone in your house knows where the shut off valve is located and how to use it to turn off the water.
Note: If you live in a warmer climate, the shut-off valve may be located outside at the water meter.3. KEEP THE WATER FLOWING
If any of your indoor faucets are located on exterior walls that aren't adequately insulated, set your faucets to a slow drip whenever temperatures dip well below freezing. This is usually necessary only during especially bitter cold spells. Faucets and pipes located along exterior walls are especially susceptible to freezing.
For maximum effectiveness, make sure both the hot and cold lines are opened slightly since both are vulnerable. Also, consider leaving cabinet doors open so your pipes will be warmed from the room air.
4. GUARD YOUR VULNERABLE PIPES
To keep outdoor pipes from freezing, disconnect and store any garden hoses as the weather begins to turn cold. Then, shut off the water to your outdoor faucets, drain the lines, and insulate the hose bibs.
When indoor plumbing pipes run through exterior walls, take care to monitor them in the winter and make sure wall insulation is up to recommended standards.
5. KEEP GARAGE DOOR CLOSED
If your garage is attached to your home, minimize the time your garage door is open. This will help to keep cold air out of your house and protect plumbing fixtures in your garage and pipes in the shared walls between the house and garage.