Greg Hanner's Blog

Being involved with custom home building provides me with a unique opportunity to interact with clients when I orient them to the systems in their new homes before they move-in.  There are many items that need recurring maintenance and I often wonder how others remember when to attend to their home's needs.  

Does that thought then migrate to what would my own family do if something were to happen to me?  How would they know what to do?  We should each have a written list of items that need regular maintenance.  It can serve as a checklist and taking care of things on a preventative schedule is much less stressful and better than waiting until when a system goes down or an emergency service call is required.

The task of homeowner maintenance is something that should be broken down and reminders noted on one's calendar just like friends' and relative's birthdays.  Having calendar reminders set will help out immensely.  

Here are a few items that are critical maintenance items that are easy to overlook without reminders.

Exterior Maintenance:
  1. Clean Gutters - Spring & Fall.
  2. Lime Lawn - Early Spring and late Fall.  
  3. Clean Siding - Remove mildew, mold, or dust from siding and trim
  4. Lawn and Garden - Establish a fertilization schedule that includes pest and weed control.  Pick up sticks and leaves ASAP.  Mower heights should be raised in summer.  Water lawns in the early morning instead of late in the day or at night since doing so minimized fungal diseases in lawns.
  5. Pool - Opening/Operating/Closing checklists are easy to make and will make your pool a feature that's enjoyable and healthy for your family/friends.
  6. Driveway - Patch and repair cracks as they appear and seal your paved driveway every 2-3 years as needed.  Sealing annually isn't needed.  Wear of the surface of the sealer is the indicator that tells you when sealing is needed.
Interior Maintenance:
  1. Fuel Level Checks - If you are on "will call" and not automatic delivery for home heating oil or Propane gas, setting calendar reminders to check for fuel levels before you run out of fuel is a must to avoid having the unnecessary expense of a service call for emergency delivery or oil burner service after running out of fuel.
  2. HVAC system service - Oil burners need to be serviced once per year (filters are changed, burner nozzles are changed, burner efficiency is checked, and combustion chamber and smoke pipes are cleaned).  A/C pressure levels are checked and condensate drain lines are checked for proper operation and confirmation that they are clear.
  3. Furnaces - Air filters and humidifiers need to be regularly changed.  Changing from heat mode to A/C mode in the Spring often is the trigger for shutting off your humidifier and turning a damper at the humidifier to a closed position on the humidifier.  The opposite occurs in the Fall when you are done with your air conditioning and resuming heating your home.
  4. Well - Change your sediment filter as needed.  Pressure drop is a tell-tail sign that your well sediment filter needs to be changed.  Water treatment systems often need to be check to be sure that softener salt levels are correct (let them run down to minimum level before refilling).  Acid neutralizing media often needs to be replaced once per year.  If you have a water treatment system that has an acid neutralizer, not having calcium media present has the potential to cause serious damage to your home's water piping due to the aggressive nature that low PH water has.
  5. Central Vac - Most of the units are located out of view in your basement or garage and it's easy to forget to empty your central vac.  One should empty their central vac unit a minimum of twice per year and don't forget to clean (with compressed air or physically - not with water) any air filter media that might be present up high just below the motor portion of the unit.  If you use a regular vacuum, then knowing when to change or empty the unit should be obvious when performance is lacking or when you can see visually in units that have clear canisters for debris to be collected in.  
  6. Dryer vent line - I try to use my vacuum's narrow attachment and vacuum out excess lint that might be visible where my lint filter is. 
  7. Refrigerator - There is a fan that moves air across your refrigerator coils and that's how it cools (transfers heat from inside) your refrigerator/freezer into your Kitchen.  Using a special narrow attachment for your vacuum, you can decrease your energy bill by increasing your refrigerator's efficiency by simply making sure the refrigerator coils are clear of dust.  Many of today's refrigerators have grills that are removable at the bottom and you'll see the accumulation of dust under modern units that are easily removable.  Don't forget that many newer refrigerators have water filters that should be replaced a minimum of annually.
  8. Tub/Shower and Sink drains - I'm not a fan of using chemicals to clean clogs.  Hair is the #1 cause of clogs and one can easily take apart drain traps at sinks (sink drain tailpipe pop-up mechanisms catch a lot of hair there) and clear them so sinks drain quickly.  HERE is a good article with tips on clearing bathroom sink drains.  Tub/shower drains should flow quickly and if they don't, taking apart the drain overflow will allow one to get the drain mechanism out of the way so hairballs can be removed with a simple coat hanger (yes, it's a nasty job, but easily done).  HERE is a good video on the topic from a master plumber.  Trust me, those who use the tub/shower will appreciate not standing in soapy water after you clear the drain and the tub/shower basin stays cleaner.
  9. Smoke Detectors - Smoke detector batteries need to be replaced once per year.  The service life of Smoke and CO detectors is said to be 10 years.  Keep your family safe by remembering to service your smoke and CO detectors.
Hope this info helps and I'll add on to this list in the future as new ideas come to mind.
Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on February 23rd, 2021 9:23 PM

When buying an existing home that has a well and septic system, many Buyers wonder why they should test these systems if everything seems to work well inside the home.  It is advisable to have both well and septic inspections done by experienced professionals in their respective fields and most Purchase and Sale agreements provide for Buyers to be able to do such inspections/tests. 

I'll add more details so that you understand what you should test for. Remember, the testing is an opportunity for you to confirm that both the well and septic system will provide you with years of trouble-free service and also provide you with not only potable (drinkable) water, but with water quality that YOU want to live with.

On the well, you want to evaluate three issues. I'll speak from the perspective of modern drilled wells as that's what's most common in my area and in the new construction that I deal with:

1. Yield: Should be tested to confirm what its yield (GPM - Gallons Per Minute) is and the records on file should give you an idea of the well depth and static level (the natural level below the surface of the ground that water settles at). These two pieces of info give you an idea of how much water your well will deliver. The deeper the well, the more reserve water you might have available for use. In a well with a 6" casing, there are 1.5 gallons per foot of water column (drill depth - static level - pump distance off the bottom of well = water column x 1.5 = total gallons in ground).

2. Pressure/Output Capacity: This is related to yield because a low yield would limit the best delivery system's capacity to provide you with water on demand. The deeper the well, the larger the pump must be to push the water out of the well when you put stress on it during peak use and when the static level is drawn down. Larger pressure tanks inside the home are generally better in that they will put fewer cycles on the good pump. If you are planning to add an irrigation system, these two issues need to be evaluated by someone knowledgeable so that you can confirm that the existing well has the capacity to support the load that irrigation will put on the well.

3. Water Quality: There is a difference between water that is potable (safe for human consumption) and water that is high quality. Learn more about any treatment system that is already installed. If there is an existing water treatment system, its backwash drain line should NOT be tied into the septic system drain. The current public health code prohibits this. Most well water tests are for all forms of contaminants including but not limited to bacteria, hardness, pesticides, nitrate, VOCs, radon, and metals. After that, the biggest concern I have with water quality is that if the natural water is aggressive, meaning low in PH and other factors are present, that condition needs to be corrected via a treatment system in order to avoid the copper plumbing in the home from getting damaged and failing. If you see a green residue in the toilet tank, that's possibly a sign that the copper plumbing may be negatively affected by the water quality. I'll add one test to Len's list and that you might want to test for fluoride if you have young children knowing what the natural level of fluoride in the water is will allow you to set a proper supplemental level of fluoride to provide your children with should you want to do that (it helps with teeth development).

On the septic system, there are a number of things to look at and consider:

1.  You should obtain is the septic system as-built.  It will provide you with information on where the septic tank is located along with the primary and reserve leaching areas are located.  This is important if you are considering putting on an addition to the home or installing a pool since there are separating distances that must be adhered to and if the back yard is used up by the septic system, you may be prohibited from installing an addition or pool.  You should also look at the Permit To Discharge to see what limitations were set by the sanitarian when the system was installed.  If the system is designed for a 3 Bedroom home and you see the listing for the home saying 5 bedrooms, there may be improvements to the home that were done without permits, or at a minimum, you may want to confirm that the septic system was expanded and improved to accommodate the current homes use and sanitary output.

2.  Modern septic systems have two-compartment septic tanks and then primary and secondary leaching areas.  The tank typically will get pumped when inspected and the pumping costs are normally paid for by the Seller.  Newer systems also have effluent filters that prevent solids from leaving the tank and then ruining the leaching area.  These filters need to be cleaned periodically.  The access to the septic tank is via risers that need to be no deeper than 12" below the surface of the lawn or yard.  If they are deeper, then new risers should be added at the time of septic tank inspection.

3.  Older systems can have a number of issues that can be expensive to fix.  Cesspools are where the tank and leaching is an all-in-one location and these are now prohibited by the health code and some forms of financing.  Single compartment tanks are also a problem in that they often allow solids to run to the leaching area and that plugs up the soil and leads to premature failure.  Another issue with older systems is the problem of seasonal rising groundwater flooding the leaching area since they were originally installed below high groundwater levels or too close to restrictive layers in the soil.  There's a lot to know about how septic systems work.

The bottom line on wells and septic systems in older homes, get them tested and confirm that they have the capacity to accommodate the current home use and any expanded use that you might desire.  Here's a quick video (sorry for the wind noise) of a septic tank inspection:

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on February 23rd, 2021 9:20 PM

Whether you rent or own, this is interesting data just released by the US Censis Bureau as it shows how living arrangements have changed over time. Business Insider just reviewed that data.

The results show that marriage is in decline, and other types of households have been steadily becoming more common.

In 1967, a full 70.3% of American adults over the age of 18 lived with a married spouse. By 2014, that proportion had dropped to a bare majority of 51.7%. Meanwhile, the percentage of adults who lived on their own nearly doubled, from 7.6% in 1967 to 14.3% in 2014.

The most dramatic jump was in households made up of unmarried romantic partners. Cohabitation was nearly nonexistent in 1967, with just 0.4% of householders living with an unmarried partner. In 2014, about 7.3% of adults lived with a partner.
Living Arrangements, 1967-2014

Here's the most interesting part of the data from my read of the Business Insider article: While the proportion of all adults over 18 who live in their parents’ household has remained fairly steady over the years, ranging between about 10% and 12% of the population, looking at younger adults shows a different picture. The proportion of adults between the ages of 25-34 living at home has steadily gone up since the early 2000s (that's almost a 44% increase!!).  My question is why?:

Posted by Greg Hanner on July 13th, 2015 9:02 PM
Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on June 25th, 2014 8:57 AM

As we 
enter the winter months, many current or potential home Sellers ponder whether they should take their home listings off the market for the holidays or avoid listing their home then in favor of bringing their homes back to market in the Spring time.  The correct answer really depends on the Seller’s individual situation.  If you as a Seller simply don’t want to move during the winter, then by all means, take your home off the market. 

Frankly, keeping a listing on the market through the holidays has many advantages that are easily overlooked.  Those who already have their home on the market and who have done their homework by getting their home properly staged with decluttering and making it as presentable as possible.  Those Sellers already have their heavy lifting done. No one knows what the future will bring. 

Who knows if the market will be much different in the spring? There are three possibilities: Better, the same, or worse. If it's worse, then you definitely want to try selling now. If it's the same, you might as well try selling now. If next spring is better, then try selling now and if it doesn't sell, then you'll encounter a better market and more chances to sell in the spring. 

If your home has been on the market for a while and has not sold, the holiday and winter season isn’t going to make the prospects of selling worse.  Holidays don’t make homes less appealing to Buyers – often they are MORE appealing since they give the sense of home and warmth being decorated and ready for your holiday celebrations with friends and family.  Your lack of success as a Seller may be pricing not being realistic.  What a home Seller needs to realize is lack of showings is often a reflection of a property being overpriced.  If your home has been listed for a while and you have had a lack of showings, ask your listing agent if other similar properties have sold in your area and at what price.

Some Sellers fear “days on market” and think that they can stack the cards in their favor and fetching a higher price by re-listing in the spring time.  Listings don’t get stale, only bread does.  Don’t kid yourself, any good Buyer’s agent will look at the property history for any home that their Buyers like and they will see your listing history and exactly what your prior listing prices were and when your listing was active or removed.  Buyers don’t buy a home because of low “days on market” count or price history; they buy because a property has availability and appeal to them at the then current asking price that’s affordable to them at the point in time they make an offer to you as a Seller.

If your home is already on the market and you as a Seller have a lot going on with children’s activities, shopping, parties and holiday guests, you may be feeling that removing the added pressure of having your home available in “show time condition” might just push you over the edge.  The emotions and pressure can become overwhelming, that’s a normal thought that enters many Seller’s minds.  Some Sellers have the added pressures of out-of-town guests coming and staying in their homes during the holidays and that adds weight to the scale in favor of pulling the home off the market.  These two thoughts are the primary reasons for taking a home off the market during the holidays and the winter.  It is understandable why you would be tempted to take your home off the market during the holidays and the list of justifications is long.

Before you extrapolate that thought and potential feeling of being overwhelmed to taking the step of removing your home from the market for the holidays, you might want to consider the following advantages that keeping the home on the market might bring to you.  Here are key reasons to that you might want to keep your home listed or to bring your home to market during the holidays and winter months:

  • The obvious but important first advantage (of listing during holidays and winter) is the reality that not doing so is actually a disadvantage. I found this best stated by Top-selling Realtor Jennie Ling.  She says taking your home off the market during the Christmas season is a mistake. As vice president of Virginia Cook REALTORS® in Texas and the number one sales person in her company for almost every one of her more than 35 years in the real estate business, Ling exclaims, "The house sure isn't going to sell off the market! What is the advantage of that? So you're busy. Let your Realtor do the work. You can leave in the morning, go to work, go shopping, and let your Realtor take care of things."

  • Although Buyer activity may appear to slow down, the Buyers who are actively looking during the holidays are that much more serious. The home market is no more affected at Christmas than during other "busy" period. If that were so, the market would shut down throughout the year as families concentrate on spring weddings, June graduations, summer vacations, and autumn back-to-school activities.

  • Only the truly motivated home buyers and sellers are the ones who will be out there over the holiday season. While many Sellers close their doors just before Thanksgiving and don’t open them again until mid January, the folks that are willing to give of their time and perform the due diligence required during this period are really serious about buying or selling.

  • It’s good for you as a Seller if you keep or put your home on the market since there is less competition

  • Buyers have more time to look at homes during holidays, especially during vacations.

  • One thing that you and your agent should try to do is get the best photos of your home.  If you have none before the leaves have fallen, then taking photos of the current conditions is appropriate.  Try to get photos of the outside of your home before the snow falls.  If your home is still available in the spring, you and your agent should up definitely update your photos when the foliage blooms.  I have to laugh when I see a home listing photo with snow covered yard in the spring or summer months.

How do you feel about listing your home during the holidays or winter months?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on November 9th, 2013 11:18 AM

That's a question that homeowners and prospective owners both have asked themselves and others many times before.  Buyers tend to have different shopping profiles and knowing what kind of a Buyer you are will help you identify what your weaknesses are and what you might want to do differently so that you can have less stress and a more positive buying experience.

The obvious elephant in the room is rising mortgage interest rates.
 Yes, they have risen a lot over the last 6 months.  Get over that if you missed the lows.  The important thing is that they are still at very cheap rates when one looks at them in terms of the past 30-50 years.  Why you didn't buy 6 months ago when the mortgage rates were cheapest is water over the dam and one needs to focus on what can be done going forward.

Now is a time that you might want to refocus your efforts to buy since the mortgage landscape is about to change for many buyers when 2014 arrives.  Getting a mortgage will be trickier and costlier next year.  This article is a great resource that outlines the changes coming for mortgages starting next year.

If you've been going at your home search on your own without the aid of a professional Buyer's agent who's looking out for your interests, then you've overlooked a resources that (in most cases) has no out-of-pocket costs to you as the Buyer.  It's normal for you as a Buyer to do research on your own and to browse all of the popular home search sites like, Zillow and Trulia - those are great places to start.  Here's info on why you might want to seek the services of a Buyer's agent who is also a REALTOR (not all licensed agents are REALTORS).

Do you find fault with every home you see?  If that's you, it might be time to step back and either adjust your search criteria or even take a break and return to the rental market while your head clears.  It's not uncommon to find that what you can afford and what you desire are two different things.  If what you can afford isn't desirable at this point in time, there's nothing wrong with going to the sidelines and renting until your purchasing power increases or until something new comes to market that you find appealing.  Key here is to forge a relationship with a Buyer's agent you respect and trust and then ask them to keep notifying you of new listings for properties that match your needs.  I've found that in some cases, it may take over a year to find the right property.  I've recently found the perfect home for a client that I've worked with for TWO years so I encourage you to not give up on finding a great home.

Have you missed out on homes you made offers on only to learn that other Buyer's offers were accepted instead of yours?  If your offers are consistently low and below others, you might not realize that in New London and Windham Counties in Southeastern CT, 2nd Quarter of 2013, the average selling to listing price between real warm blooded Buyers and Sellers doing 891 closed single family home deals was done by them agreeing on a sales price that was 94.84% of the listing price.  If your offers are way below that average, perhaps that's a reason why your offers are not being accepted.  Price discovery is something that both Buyers and Sellers go through.  The point here is that home ownership is all about enjoying a home and not chasing the deals that just won't happen.

Hope this info helps.  Questions welcomed.

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on September 11th, 2013 4:45 PM
As a new home builder, I've been confronted with client's questions of what heating fuel is better a number of times over the years.  The answer is not as easy as one might think.  There are a number of factors that impact fuel choice.  

If the home is an existing home, then what's the age and condition of the existing boiler or furnace?  If the existing equipment is newer and in great shape, replacing that equipment long before it has reached it's service life can be a waste of money.  

Keep in mind that fuel choice is not what drives heating costs as much as reducing heat loss in the home.  Infiltration can be minimized by doing an energy audit and air sealing plumbing & mechanical penetrations in the framing, adding insulation to attic and basement ceiling (yes, heat loss down to a basement is wasteful).  Window and door performance is obviously a big component in the performance of the thermal envelop.  Sealing any duct leakage in HVAC ductwork that's in unconditioned space.  These are all things that should be looked at BEFORE making a fuel source change in an existing home.

Does the question pertain to an older existing home or a new home being built?  Starting from scratch, IMHO going with high efficiency propane or natural gas is a no brainer given that fuel source is within the US borders.  The new high efficiency LP propane gas or natural gas equipment is normally sealed combustion type setups where outside air is taken into the furnace or boiler and then the exhaust is sent back out via a PVC vent through the sidewall of the home.  There's really no standby heat lost since there's no vent connected to a chimney.  Additional savings are realized via the sealed combustion process since makeup air is not taken from the basement area or inside the home and that means replacement air does not have to be heated.

Let's now drill down on each fuel's BTU content (measure of heat output per unit of fuel).  Oil is top dog in terms of BTU's per unit of fuel.  However, oil equipment efficiencies are lower than gas since oil is a "dirty" burning fuel.  One has to then consider what are the BTU's delivered differences after fuel burned in order to really get a handle on which fuel is better.

The following worksheet compares Oil to Propane (includes 3 different propane equipment efficiencies):

I know some of you might be thinking "he's way off" on the propane pricing above since you are used to paying costs for propane when you are renting a tank or low consumption user.  If you use propane to make heat & hot water, most folks find that owning your own tank is the way to go since you can get the cost for fuel reduced substantially.  Many suppliers us a margin over cost for refills and if you don't like your current supplier, you are free to change to another supplier.

Bottom line, High efficiency gas obviously beats oil at today's current costs.  There's an added bonus in that the burner in a gas fired boiler does not need annual cleanings like oil fired equipment needs.  You still have to clean furnace air filters and humidifiers, but that's often a homeowner do-it-yourself maintenance item that's not that difficult.

If propane or natural gas is used for heating and domestic hot water, then using it for cooking and perhaps an energy efficient gas fireplace or garage heating is a natural extension of the fuel's capability.  Direct vent sealed combustion gas fireplaces are much more energy efficient than a traditional wood burning fireplace (think heat loss via need for replacement makeup air).  Many of my clients used their gas fireplaces for warming their homes during recent power outages due to 2 hurricanes and 1 blizzard in the past two years.

Hope this info helps.
Posted in:General and tagged: Oil vs Propane
Posted by Greg Hanner on August 16th, 2013 1:19 PM
Pantries are a key design element in the Kitchens for most of my BROM new custom home client's. I'd have to say that at least 80% of my BROM clients have either reach in or walk-in Pantries designed into their homes. These spaces take all... of the food stuff out of the cabinetry and makes it easily accessible in the Pantry and it helps when it's time for you to go shopping since you can easily see what you need by glancing into the cabinetry where you can see what you are low on. I gave more information on Pantries in new homes - the article was published in The Day newspaper on May 15, 2005 and it can be read here:

In cases where walk-in or reach in Pantries just don't work in the home's layout, cabinetry pantry components are used. The following article features the most complicated and expensive way of incorporating Pantry storage into cabinetry.

Here's a cool cabinetry style pantry - click on the image below for more Pantry inspirations at

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on March 15th, 2013 5:51 PM

When I'm tasked with helping clients design their new BROM custom homes, Kitchen lighting is one of the first place that I recommend that a client deviate from a standard single light in the center of a Kitchen + light above the sink area. ... The best and most attractive kitchens have multiple lighting sources:

1) Perimeter counter area (normally recessed centered over the countertop's front edge),

2) Island or Peninsula area lighting (these locations are often lit separately from the Kitchen perimeter),

3) Undercabinet lighting (my favorite is Xenon - but alternatives are Halogen, LED and Fluorescent (my last choice due to color incompatibility),

4) Accent lighting that is placed above upper cabinets and bounces light off the ceiling OR interior lighting for cabinets with glass doors. Each of these lighting areas should be switched separately and dimmable (dimmer selection must match lighting source).

Pendant lights are a key part of a well lit Kitchen and the following article gives some great ideas. If you are remodeling your Kitchen or building a new home, Kitchen lighting is an area that you should not skimp on as it's an integral part of your home and its a great opportunity for you to enhance the utility and beauty of that area of the home you use each and every day.

Click on the image below for a good article is a good one on Pendant Lighting:

Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on March 15th, 2013 5:32 PM
Has the cold winter weather brought you the unpleasant surprised of a frozen pipe in your home?  If so, don't panic, take advantage of these extreme weather conditions to trouble shoot the problem and solve it before you have property damage due to broken water supply piping or the next cold snap.

Having been in the custom home building business for the past 27 years with BROM Builders, Inc., I've seen all types of frozen pipes and many friends and acquaintances have asked for advice on how to fix that problem.  There are a couple of types of frozen pipe problems that are most common.

First, the outside hose faucets in most new homes are "frost free", but that's only true if the homeowner removes the hose from the faucet so the water can drain from the faucet body.  On those fixtures, the valve body is generally about 12" in from the outside of the home in a the basement and that's generally above freezing.  If you leave a hose connected, the water can't drain out of the body of the valve and when the water freezes, it expands and cracks the hose bib faucet body.  This type of problem normally doesn't show up until spring time when the homeowner uses the faucet for the first time in the spring time and then they find water flowing down the foundation wall in their basement (out of the cracked faucet body).  The fix is a replacement of the valve body.  Occasionally, these valves on today's super insulated homes are covered with insulation and they might still freeze due to the lack of heat being able to get to the exterior side of the valve seat.  I often recommend moving the basement ceiling insulation to run above these valves (just the last 6" of the valve body - you want to keep the exterior rim joist insulation in place on the exterior 6" of the valve body in place) so they are exposed and then the ambient air from the basement can get to them and keep them warm.  So to avoid this type of nuisance plumbing problem, simply remove your outside hoses from the outside faucets.  If you are in an older home where there is not a frost-free valve, then you also need to continue doing your seasonal shutting down the valves from inside the home and then leave the outside valve in the open position.

Second, for those who have outside showers, these plumbing features need to be drained down seasonally, modern showers have pressure balancing valves and some times the cartridge needs to be removed so the shower diverter doesn't freeze/crack.  Many times you can simply put the diverter into the warm position and that will allow for the hot and cold supply sides to drain out properly.

Third type of frozen pipe is an interior supply pipe to a plumbing fixture on the interior of the home.  These types of problems are commonly caused not by the lack of insulation, but are actually caused by air movement through the wall or floor assembly.  Insulation doesn't stop air movement.  I've seen this type of problem most commonly in older homes where the holes drilled in the top or bottom of the wall for plumbing or electrical wiring isn't sealed.  The fix is to seal those holes around the plumbing and wiring to eliminate air flow.

Now if you have extreme cold and find a fixture has lost water supply due to a frozen pipe, first thing to do is open the fixture valve on both the hot and cold side.  When water freezes, it expands and if the valve is open, you can often prevent a burst supply pipe by eliminating the pressure increase - it's the pressure increase that breaks the pipe and not the frozen water. 

Here are a few tips on how to avoid frozen pipes in a home:

1.  In extreme weather conditions, it's often a good idea to NOT use setback thermostat settings if your home has a history of frozen pipes since dropping 10-15 degrees at night can be just enough to cause the freeze.  See, there's a battle zone waged between hot/cold sides of a wall that's only 3.5" or 5.5" thick.  If the inside of the home is 68 degrees and it's only 5 degrees outside, where do you think it will be <32 degrees in the wall or floor assembly.  Supply plumbing shouldn't be in the outside walls in cold climates. 

2. Cabinet or vanity doors can be left open to let the room heat get into the cabinetry and to the water supply area.  Some say leave the water running slowly, but that's also wasteful.

3.  Look for areas of air leakage and eliminated those sources of cold.  Remember, insulation doesn't stop air movement, only solid wood blocking, foam sealers or caulking or insulation boards will do the trick.

4.  If you have a large home and you are using a fireplace or wood stove, often the home's heating system thermostat gets "tricked" by the heat generated by the stove or fireplace.  That can cause the extremities of the home away from the fireplace or wood stove to become cold.  If you have a warm air system, changing from automatic fan setting to manual ON will more evenly distribute the air around your home.  Also, don't forget that if you are using a conventional fireplace, they are extremely INEFFICIENT in that they normally draw air from the inside of the home and that can cause the areas away from the home to be very cold as the makeup are is drawn in through the nooks and crannies of the building envelop.  To avoid this, either open the makeup air intake inside your firebox if you have one OR just crack open a window in the room where the fireplace is burning.  If you have a modern gas "direct-vent" sealed combustion fireplace (they have full solid glass panels in the front of the firebox that are not removable except to clean the glass) then you are all set since the makeup are is drawn down the outside of the exhaust pipe and none of the air from inside the home is used for combustion or drawn to the outside of the home when you use your fireplace.

Hope these ideas and tips help you out!!
Posted in:General
Posted by Greg Hanner on February 23rd, 2013 10:31 AM

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