Protecting Pipes from Freezing Temps

January 3, 2007 - Posted at 5:19 p.m. CST

JONESBORO-The sound of a torch soldering pipes back together marks a very busy season for plumbers.

"Most of the problems we've had are just from a lack of maintenance. Just the homeowners being unaware of what could arise due to the sudden bursts of cold weather we've had," said Jim Gulley, owner of Gulley Plumbing and Construction.

That cold weather has them preparing busted pipes that were connected to an exterior faucet, a faucet that was supposed to be "freeze proof."

"The main thing is they are designed to shut the water off deep in the wall past the insulation. But when the hoses are left connected to them it lets that water freeze in that hose and it doesn't properly drain out, and that causes the expansion of the ice which causes the pipe to rupture," said Gulley.

But some other problem areas are those you might least expect.

"We also see now a lot of water heaters being put in attics and not having the proper blankets put on them, or the insulation put on the pipes. When you have a water heater freeze and rupture, you are talking sheetrock, framing, and structural damage. It costs homeowners and insurance companies millions of dollars every year throughout the United States," said Gulley.

Plumbers say there are a few things you can do at home that will help protect from frozen pipes. First set your faucets so there is a slight drip. That will give water a chance to move through the pipes and keep them from freezing up. Another thing you can do is open cabinet doors. That gives warm, room-temperature air a chance to get in there and warm up those pipes under your faucets to keep them from freezing as well.

Some other tips are putting insulated covers over your faucets, wrapping hot water heaters with an insulated blanket, and making sure any pipes that are susceptible to cold weather are wrapped in heat tracing tape or some other type of insulation.

Most all of those items can be found at your local home improvement store.

Gulley also said it's important for homeowners to know where their water shut off valve is at, so that should a pipe break they can react quickly and save themselves a lot more money.

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