Ready for the cold? Your home may not be

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Temperatures have dropped to the teens and 20s and the danger of seeing burst pipes at home is increasing, especially if you haven't taken some precautions to protect those pipes.Outdoor faucets need to be drained and covered with those styrofoam caps because usually they are not frost or freeze-proof. Hopefully your home is well insulated and your pipes protected, but that's not the case for everyone. You can purchase foam covers for exposed pipes, or wrap them in special material to insulate them. Insulation is key to keeping out the cold.Some other tips:

  • Know how to shut off the water to your home and unhook outside hoses from faucets.
  • Leaving a trickle of water running from the faucet farthest away from the water meter can be helpful.
  • Never use a propane torch or an open flame to thaw a pipe due to the risk of igniting wood beams, flooring and other combustible materials around pipes.

Pipes aren't the only thing homeowners worry about in cold weather. There are also concerns when it comes to home heating. Simple yearly maintenance can keep you from making that emergency call to the furnace repairman.

They suggest an annual service call combined with a filter change every 90 days are the best precautions. Most furnaces last 15 to 20 years, so make sure yours is not in need of replacement before the cold weather sets in.Precautions if you're using alternate heat sources:

  • Have working carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home.
  • Never use kerosene, propane, or other outdoor-use heaters indoors due to the high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Space heaters need space! Keep portable heaters at least three feet away from combustibles such as bedding, furniture, and/or drapes.
  • Always turn off space heaters when you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Do not store combustibles too close to fireplaces or heaters.