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How To Prevent Frozen Pipes During Cold Weather

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If your home's water pipes freeze, the damage can be devastating. A burst pipe can rack up costly repair bills, not to mention the nasty mold problem that it could create. Depending on your insurance company, they might even drop your coverage.

Here is how to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Locate all of your water valves and check that they work by shutting them on and off again.
  • Seal off any gaps in "problem areas" where cold air could penetrate your home and freeze the piping. This includes attics, windows, dryer vents, cable holes, exterior walls, and ceilings.
  • If you have standard exterior hose valve (also called a "spigot") turn it off and drain it.

If you leave your home during cold weather, do the following:

  • Let a small trickle of both cold and hot water run through outside pipes.
  • If you have crawl space vents around your foundation, seal them off.
  • Turn off your home's main water valve. 
  • Leave your home heated.

While it might seem like you are wasting money by running the heat and water while you are away from home, it is an investment that could save you from a far more costly problem.

Sometimes, it is too late for prevention. This will often be apparent due to "no flow" or "low flow," in which your sinks, shower heads, and other plumbing fixtures are producing very little water or no water at all. If you suspect your pipes are frozen, here is what to do:

  • Turn off your main water valve
  • Leave your faucets "open." This means that they are turned in the position that would normally allow water to flow out of them.
  • If water is flowing out of them, then let it continue to run. The point is to remove excess water from your pipes to prevent further freezing.
  • Call your plumber. You want to be sure that your pipes have not burst. You always want professional expertise to ensure that the water pipes are turned back on and thawed in the proper way. After all, some pipe problems could be invisible at first, and a plumber can take the necessary steps to uncover and correct them.

When the weather turns cold, the last thing you want is a house full of frozen pipes. Aside from the inconvenience of living without water, you could also run the risk of bursting your pipes. Take the precautions above during cold weather, especially if you leave town. When in doubt, consider consulting your trusted plumber for help.