Redefining Restoration

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing (and How to Thaw Out Frozen Pipes, Too)

Winter – have you had enough of it yet? While most of us worry about warming up the car for those brutal morning commutes, many overlook a cold weather hazard that’s right under our feet at home. We’re talking about frozen plumbing pipes. This common problem can lead to major (and expensive) damage if ignored, so keep reading for tips on how to prevent it, and what to do if you find your pipes already frozen.

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Preventing Frozen Plumbing Pipes

Frozen pipes are bad, but it’s what can happen to the pipes themselves that makes things go from bad to much worse. Water expands as it freezes, and this can cause pipes to burst, no matter what type of plumbing materials you have. When that ice melts, your home can flood.

To keep water flowing through your plumbing during bouts of extreme cold, try the following tricks:

  • Open cabinets under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. This will help the warm air in your home circulate through those confined spaces. If you have chemicals and cleaners under there, be sure to move them out of reach of children and pets.
  • Allow faucets to leak a little bit. Even a slow drip can help protect pipes from freezing.
  • Don’t set your thermostat below 55 degrees at night, or while you’re away from home for an extended period.
  • Invest in electric heat tape from your local home improvement store. You can wrap the tape around exposed sections of plumbing and plug it in to keep things warm.
  • For a cheaper investment, consider adding pipe and in-wall insulation.

Thawing Already-Frozen Plumbing Pipes

Did you turn on a faucet, only to get a trickle or nothing at all? You probably have a frozen pipe. Time is very important in these cases. Here’s what to do ASAP:

  • Keep the affected faucet open/turned on. This will help speed up melting once you begin to treat the pipe.
  • Check plumbing in your basement, crawlspace, or other exposed area. Look for frost or ice on the pipe’s exterior for signs of internal freezing.
  • Use a space heater (hair dryers also work well) and place it near the pipe. You can also wrap pipe with that heat tape we mentioned above, or towels soaked in hot water.
  • Continue heating until water pressure is restored at the faucet. Check other fixtures in your home and repeat these steps if they appear frozen, too.
  • If you find breaks in the pipe, turn off the main water supply to your home immediately.
  • Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

Simple preventative steps should help you “weather” these cold months until spring arrives. However, if your home suffers any kind of water damage, remember that Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis is here to help. We specialize in water damage restoration and repair, and will get your home back to like-new condition in no time at all. In addition to disaster recovery, our team offers many Indiana home improvement services that can better protect you from future dangers. These include roofing, remodeling & construction, and more! Browse our website for more helpful information, and contact us to learn more about how we can help you and your home.

Easy Ways to Prep Your Home for Winter

We’ll spare you the old “Game of Thrones” saying that always gets thrown around this time of year, but yeah … it’s going to be cold here soon.

Get ahead of Old Man Winter before he arrives, and make sure your home is prepared. Here are four handy home improvement projects to add to your honey-do list while it’s still autumn.

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1) Seal It Up

Drafty doors and windows let good air out, and bad air in. In the winter, this means a HVAC system that’s working harder (and wearing out faster) to keep your home warm, while your energy bills climb higher. Thankfully, there’s an effective solution you can do yourself, and it only costs a few bucks. We’re talking about weatherstripping.

Look for drafts and air leaks around exterior doors and windows – especially older frames and single panes. Add weatherstripping where necessary for a quick and easy energy-efficient winter prep. We are happy to help if you have questions about remodeling and construction services.

2) Pack It In

Does your home tend to get chilly again pretty quickly, even if you’ve been running the heat all day? If so, you might have an insulation problem. Find out what kind of insulation you already have installed, and research which types are best for your home.

If you don’t want to fuss with removing all that old insulation first, know that in many cases you can add new insulation over the existing stuff. Just plan ahead and make sure you know what you’re doing.

3) Review Your Roof

With winter comes the potential for major damage from things like heavy snow, ice dams, and more. That’s why fall is an optimal time of year to inspect your roof. Once you’re up there, you’ll want to look for things like sags, stains, and loose or missing shingles. Make sure your gutters look good and aren’t clogged with leaves and other debris.

And, it may go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway … always remember safety when climbing up on the roof. Keep your ladder away from electrical lines, wear proper shoes and gear, and a tool belt is very helpful if you need to make any minor fixes while up there. Let us know if you have any questions about professional roof repairs for your Indiana home.

4) Check the Chimney

Another thing to think about when on your roof, is your chimney. Even if you don’t use your fireplace that much or at all in the winter, an annual inspection is still important. Check mortar joints and bricks for cracks and other signs of fatigue. Make sure the cap is secured and there are no branches or animal nests clogging it. Back on solid ground, look into the chimney for signs of creosote buildup.

Creosote is a combustible material that builds up inside chimneys when wood is burned. It poses a dangerous fire hazard if left untreated. A chimney sweep is a worthwhile investment if you regularly use your home’s fireplace.

Winter’s a beautiful time in Indiana, as long as you’re prepared. Talk to the friendly experts at Van Rooy Restoration in Indianapolis for more tips on getting your home ready right now.

Staying Up-to-Date During an Emergency

Thinking about disasters tends to put folks in “defense” mode. When we imagine a major storm sweeping through our community, we only think about protecting what’s ours. That is human nature.

Stop for a moment though and think bigger picture. If a disaster strikes, what will you do if you are separated from loved ones? What if an evacuation is ordered? What if power and communication is lost? What if your home is completely destroyed?

Questions like these remind us why staying connected with your larger community in an emergency is so important.

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Emergency Alerts

You know the sound; that sharp, shrill, nails-on-chalkboard sound. Emergency Alert System (EAS) notifications sure can be annoying, but they save lives. These public alerts are designed to notify the community with imminent emergency information. EAS messages are delivered on TV, over the radio, and even through your smartphone.

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are a relatively new way to get that information out to the public. They look like text messages, but alert users with a unique sound and vibration. If you have ever received an AMBER alert on your smartphone, this is an example of a WEA. Learn more and find out how to activate WEAs on your device.

Emergency Shelters

If your home is damaged or inaccessible during an emergency, help is out there. The American Red Cross operates quick-response shelters whenever and wherever disasters strike. Open shelters are searchable on an online database from the Red Cross National Shelter System, with information updated every 30 minutes.

Some people prefer to have storm shelters a little bit closer to home. For that reason, there are many American companies that specialize in building private shelters and safe rooms for customers. These family-sized units can be installed in the basement or buried in the backyard. The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) maintains a catalog of builders, and provides a lot of helpful consumer information on its website.

Plan, Survive, Recover

Few thoughts are as frightening as losing your home – or worse – in a disaster. Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to protect it all. Plan ahead by reading articles and finding tips on our blog, know what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency, and remember that material possessions are replaceable.

If your home is damaged during a disaster, we can help. Learn more about our restoration services on our website, and contact us if you have questions about any of our services. At Van Rooy Restoration, we are with you every step of the way.

Winter is Coming – Are You Ready?

We may only be a few weeks into fall, but winter isn’t far behind. Being prepared means planning ahead, and when it comes to cold weather threats like snow and ice, it’s never too early to start planning. Let’s cover a few things you should know about winter storms.

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Your Home

You tune in to the local evening news, only to see a breaking weather alert that a severe winter storm is headed your way. So, you drop what you’re doing and rush to the store to stock up on supplies. The only problem? So does everyone else, and by the time you make it to the store, shelves are empty and folks are fighting over what’s left. It’s a scary reality, but the items in your pantry and medicine cabinet might not be enough to help your family ride out a bad storm. That’s why you need to start planning now. An emergency supply kit is essential for your home. Be sure to include gear like:

  • A three-day supply of food & water for each family member (and pet!)
  • Flashlights & extra batteries
  • A first aid kit & medicines (over-the-counter & prescription)
  • Cold weather outerwear & spare blankets
  • Alternative heat source (like a wood fireplace or coal-burning stove)
  • Rock salt or kitty litter for steps & walkways
  • Extra cash

You can find a longer list of items to add to your home’s emergency kit in our recent weather disaster blog post.

Your Car

Just like your home, you’ll want to make sure each of your family vehicles is stocked with a portable emergency survival kit. In addition to flashlights, kitty litter (which helps with tire traction), food, water, and blankets, make sure you have:

  • An ice scraper
  • A shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Road flares

A kit like this is vital in case you get stranded, but you can prevent accidents due to snow and ice by being cautious while driving. Go slow, give yourself plenty of room, check your tire pressure, and keep your gas tank full.

Your Family

Property damaged by blizzards and ice is replaceable. Your family is not. The most important thing you can do before a snowstorm blows through is have an action plan in place and practiced.

  • Write down essential phone numbers for relatives, work, school, etc.
  • Teach your children about winter-related health dangers like frostbite and hypothermia (warm, loose-fitting, layered clothing is key!).
  • In a power outage, never operate a portable generator, grill, or camp stove inside, and be sure to run those devices away from windows and vents outside. Your best bet is to go to the home of a relative or friend, or a public shelter, if your home loses power and/or heat.
  • Lastly, be sure to bring your pets inside during heavy snow or other winter weather!

More Winter Preparedness Tips

Make this autumn a season of preparation for the colder temperatures and inclement weather ahead. Find more tips on our website, and remember: Van Rooy Restoration is here for you 24/7, should a damaging winter storm strike your home or business.