Prepare your pipes for freezing weather

Prepare pipes for freezing weather

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Mid-Missouri is experiencing mild temperatures right now, but as the new year rolls in, so does the chance of freezing temperatures, which could cause some pipes to burst. 

Columbia Water and Light said just an eighth-inch crack in a pipe, about three millimeters, can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day. 

CWL suggests insulating pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic before the cold weather hits. They said exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.

"It is usually when (pipes) come up from underground into the house and usually that's a crawl space in an older home or inside a garage in a new home," said Floyd Turner, water distribution manager for the city of Columbia. 

They also suggest heat to or thermostatically-controlled heat cables that can be used to wrap pipes.

Sealing leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located is another tip. Homeowners can use caulk or insulation to keep the cold out and heat in. It's also suggested that garden hoses be disconnected. 

Once the temperatures drop, CWL said a trickle of water could be enough to keep the pipes from freezing.

"Let the water run for a little bit like a pencil stream," Turner said. "Just as long as the water is moving it won't freeze." 

Letting the water trickle from a faucet may raise your water bill, but experts say it will cost you a lot less than having to pay to replace busted pipes. 

Leaving cabinet doors open also allows heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks. 

If you are heading away for a weekend when temperatures are expected to dip below freezing, CWL said you should not set the thermostat to lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing. 

If your pipes do freeze, CWL suggests calling a plumber immediately. Never try to thaw a frozen pipe with a torch or open flame. However you may be able to thaw the pipe with warm air from a hair dryer. 

Turner also said to turn off the water from the main shut-off valve to your home. 

"when it thaws, you'll have flowing water running through there," Turner said.  

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