Extreme cold for extended periods can threaten plumbing inside New Jersey homes and apartments.

Denise Venuti-Free of New Jersey American Water Company says besides the obvious damage to your pipes if they freeze, the bust pipes can cause water damage to the home.

"When the temperatures are below freezing for an extended period of time or they dip into sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period of time, your pipes can freeze inside your home. And that causes a variety of problems," she said. "If you open the faucet, and only a little bit comes out, I would absolutely suspect that your pipe has frozen, and you need to turn the water off."

What is the best defense to guard against frozen pipes? Venuti-Free recommends identifying areas near sinks and faucets where cold air may freeze pipes.

"Open up the cabinet underneath the sink. Let the warm air that is in your bathroom or in your kitchen circulate in. Identify where you have drafty spaces or poorly-insulated areas where there are pipes running through them, and wrap those pipes, or improve some of that insulation."

She says water utilities also face the threat of burst water mains in these extreme conditions. Unfortunately, the weakest or oldest links in a water utility system are the most vulnerable to leaks or breaks in this extreme cold.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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