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How Can You Avoid Frozen Pipes This Winter? [AUDIO]

Each winter, nearly 250,000 families have their homes ruined by frozen pipes which cost an average of $15,000 to repair.

Flickr User William Herron

“You have to keep in mind that just an eighth-inch crack in a pipe can pour out more than 250 gallons of water a day which roughly equates to about 14 gallons a minute which can destroy your possessions, your drywall, your furniture depending on where the pipe breaks,” said Dave Phillips, spokesman for State Farm. But, the problem is preventable.

“One of the common misconceptions is that both plastic and copper pipes freeze. People often think that only metal pipes freeze, but your plastic and PVC pipes can also be in that situation,” said Phillips. “If you go to turn on your faucet and you see a slow trickle of water coming out, there’s a chance you have a pipe that’s beginning to freeze. At that point, you need to backtrack and see if you can feel the cold section of the pipe.”

What can you do to avoid pipes from freezing?

“Before the cold sets in, insulate the pipes. In doing so, check the ones in the crawl spaces and the attic. You can use aluminum foil or rubber tubing to insulate. You should also seal any leaks with caulk to prevent drafts from coming in. Disconnect your garden hoses and keep your thermostat set at a consistent rate. Don’t set it any lower than 55. If you have a room where you know insulation is poor, open up cabinet doors to expose those pipes to more heat to keep them insulated. If you don’t have time to prepare beforehand, let a trickle of water run to prevent pipes from freezing,” said Phillips.

“If you’re going away for an extended period of time during the winter, keep the temperature at 55. You may want to shut off and drain parts of your water system,” said Phillips. “If you realize that you could have a frozen pipe, make sure you keep the water turned on so in the event that the unfreezing occurs, it doesn’t just burst out as you call a plumber. Stay away from electrical outlets and appliances. If you’re planning to thaw out the pipe yourself, you want to use a controlled source of heat like a hair dryer. Do not use a blow torch. That can result in an explosion or fire.”

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