By: Dick Russ Updated: 1/22/2011 4:51:12 PM Posted: 1/21/2011 12:43:19 PM
With lows in the single digits and high temperatures well below freezing the next five days, homeowners need to be on guard against frozen water pipes.
Pipes most likely to freeze are those most exposed to the severe cold, including outdoor hose bibs, sprinkler supply lines, and pipes in unheated indoor areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and kitchen cabinets.
Pipes which run along exterior walls with little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
"This is another common place for water damage, under sinks," says George Cruz of PuroClean Professional Services, a local company which cleans up the damage after pipes burst.
"In this case it's an exterior wall, and a common place to find plumbing," he points out, in a home that has suffered extensive water damage from a burst pipe. "Because of that exterior wall it can get pretty cold in there, causing the water to freeze and the pipe to rupture. And then there's the ensuing water damage."
"It's not uncommon for costs to exceed 20, 30 thousand dollars in order to mitigate," says Emilio Soli, managing partner of PuroClean.
Soli and Cruz had a crew of about six workers at a home in Olmsted Falls in which a pipe had burst. Water seeped into the carpets, the walls, and into the insulation.
In addition to keeping an eye on pipes near exterior walls, it's good idea to insulate water pipes which run through attics, crawl spaces, and unheated areas of your basement. On very cold days and nights, you might have to leave the water on a trickle to prevent a problem pipe from freezing.
If you're leaving home for a few days, don't set the thermostat below 55 degrees, and make sure a friend or neighbour checks your house every day to make sure a pipe has not frozen or ruptured.
If you turn the faucet on and no water comes out, never use a blow torch or open flame to try to thaw the pipe. Rather, try a blow dryer, warming the area near the faucet first, and working your way down toward the coldest section of the pipe.
Should a frozen pipe rupture, make sure everyone in your house knows where the nearest water shut-off valve is, and if necessary use the main shut-off where the water supply enters yours house.
And keep the number of your favourite plumber handy.
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