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How to prevent frozen water pipes in your home

"Baby, It's Cold Outside"



Pipes freeze due to quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. Both plastic and copper pipes can freeze and burst, and a cracked pipe can cause flooding, structural damage and mold.

When pipes freeze, water in the pipes turns to ice and expand. The pressure causes cracks, and even a small one can leak 250 gallons in a day.

Frozen pipes are a serious concern over the next few days. Temperatures are forecast to plunge to single digits today and tomorrow, and will remain below or near freezing on Wednesday and Thursday.

We suggests these steps to prevent pipes from freezing:

1) Disconnect outside water hoses.

2) Inspect outside faucets, and repair dripping or leaking faucets.

3) If your home has an interior shut-off valve leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from the pipes.

4) Cover outside faucets with a faucet insulation kit available at home and garden stores.

5) Apply heat tape around exposed pipes.

6) Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to drip overnight in sinks and bathtubs that have supply pipes that run along outside walls.

The best way to not worry about your pipes freezing in the winter is to prepare for the disaster. “Frozen pipes can be a costly problem if precautions are not taken,”  “Oftentimes, homeowners find themselves unprepared when winter weather hits.” A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water in a day. But all it takes is a little bit of labor and a few supplies to skate through deep freezes without your home becoming a kiddie pool.

In the United States, frozen pipes cause a huge amount of damage each year; unlike natural disasters, this disaster is largely preventable. By taking a few simple precautions, you can help save yourself the mess, money, and aggravation frozen pipes cause.

Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It's not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream - between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It's this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure.

With the temperatures likely dropping to the single digits to near zero Tuesday night, burst pipes are likely to be a significant problem across the area.

If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer! (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water). To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes. When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.

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