How to prevent pipes from freezing when the power goes out

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Home Improvement Send your home improvement questions to [email protected]. Insulate basement heat pipes or any exposed pipes where possible. Shutterstock By Mark Philben — Globe Correspondent January 31, 2024 | 10:53 AM Q. Like many people across the state, I lost power in a recent storm. A tree fell on […]

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Send your home improvement questions to [email protected].

How to prevent pipes from freezing when the power goes out
Insulate basement heat pipes or any exposed pipes where possible. Shutterstock

Q. Like many people across the state, I lost power in a recent storm. A tree fell on the wires at my neighbor’s house. Without electricity, we have no heat, which is forced hot water. At what point should I start draining or otherwise protecting the pipes from freezing? The options I think I have are as follows:

What should I do?

DAN

A. I wouldn’t recommend draining the system just because of a blackout. That is a laborious process on both ends of the project. Here are a few suggestions that are less invasive:

Regarding the potable water, definitely open the sink base cabinets and leave all of the plumbing fixtures open for a trickle of water to keep them from freezing.

Q. We had our house painted in spring 2022 and replaced clapboards and window frames. The following spring, we noticed a brown stain on one side of the house, below an area where some of the wood had been replaced. I called the painting company to look at it. They said that it was “likely a bleed-through of wood resins from the repairs” and that most of it would likely wash off. They sent someone to clean and repaint the area. About a month ago, the stain came back. We are concerned that this will be a chronic problem. What should we do?

J.C.

A. The painters are right that the wood resins are bleeding through. They are called tannins and are fairly common with red cedar siding, particularly clapboards. What we do when installing new red cedar siding is to prime it with a shellac-based oil primer. There are several on the market, and any paint store will carry them. I would recommend the painter scrape-sand the affected area, use a shellac-based primer, and then apply two coats of the finished paint.

The root cause of excessive bleeding could be moisture getting behind or into the siding, which can accelerate the problem. Window flashing or roofing issues could be part of the problem. Most cedar siding comes primed, but the end cuts need to be sealed upon installation. Any moisture getting into the siding could be pushing the tannins out. If the siding was not primed first and the backside was installed bare, you will have a chronic problem. This is worth another discussion with the installation company.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge.

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