SEATTLE - If you live in a home more than 40 years old, it's probably not equipped for the frigid temperature.
Q13 News talked to an expert at Seattle Public Utilities about what you can do both outside and inside your home to protect it from the freeze.
The first place specialist Dale Baxmann goes to is the basement and into the crawl space of the 100 year old craftsman he inspected for Q13 News.
Baxmann noticed the crawl space was insulated both on the walls and the ceiling, something many old homes may not have.
“What that does is it keeps to maintain the heat inside your house, you can staple it. In my place they have some little rods you can push up into there,” Baxmann said.
If any of your pipes are exposed you should wrap them with pipe insulation, something that is affordable at any hardware store.
“Almost anything is better than nothing,” Baxmann said.
Another important thing to do is to locate the water shut off for your house.
“If you’re one of the unlucky people who ends up with a frozen water pipe somewhere and you have to turn the water off it’s really good to know where this is,” Baxmann said.
In an older home, the shut off is most likely against the wall in the basement or crawl space. It’s usually by the wall and not in the middle of the room.
If your pipes freeze and breaks and the water is still running, you can end up with a big messy leak once the pipes thaw out.
Pipes elsewhere in the house are also a concern.
In the kitchen, Baxmann says you can leave the cabinet doors open underneath the sink so the temperature of the rest of the home can warm it up.
And up top, experts say keep your water running overnight.
“We are talking about a little trickle just as long as the water is moving it won’t freeze.
It seems wasteful, but Baxmann says in extreme cold it’s worth it to prevent serious damage and water leaks. He says it will also have a minimal impact on your water bill.
Now outside the home, the most important thing you can do is to unhook any hoses and use a faucet cover to protect pipes outside.
Also for icy steps outside your home, salt from the hardware store is what you need. But on Wednesday all of the local hardwares, including the big chain stores, were out of de-icing salt.
But experts at Stoneway Hardware tell Q13 News that if you are in a pinch and need to take care of some dangerous steps right away try regular salt that you use to cook.