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DEEP FREEZE: Tips to keep your water pipes from bursting, what to do if they burst

Taking these steps might help you avoid costly repairs, experts say
Frozen pipes can cause costly damage to your home.
Frozen pipes can cause costly damage to your home.
Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 8:11 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — With temperatures not getting above freezing for several days, experts say it’s not too late to prepare now instead of dealing with thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs later.

“This is one of those times where you have to be very vigilant about the plumbing on your property,” said Trey Giglio, vice president and mechanical engineer at Universal Plumbing.

He offered these three tips:

  1. “You’ve heard about wrapping faucets. Taking any precautions when it comes to outside, exposed piping. Get that insulated and taken care of.
  2. “If your house is on a pier and beam, a foundation, you’re going to want to take steps to minimize the draft that occurs underneath the home. Wind chill does have a factor on the piping system underneath the home.
  3. “If your home is on a slab, you need to ensure that your faucets are not just dripping but have a stream of water coming out of them. We normally advise for dripping when we have a typical freeze in our area, which is going to be around that 25- to 30-degree mark. But with temperatures in the single digits and low teens, a stream of water is necessary to prevent the pipes from freezing and busting.”

“They can open their cabinets on the outside walls, which is typically where a kitchen sinks sits in the home,” advised Mike Tilton, owner of Mike Tilton Quality Plumbing and Heating. “That will allow the warmth from the house to get in there to prevent that freeze.

And he echoed the advice about dripping versus running water.

“Running faucets is typical, but no drips. You need to run the faucet. A drip is not enough when it gets this cold.”

Tilton also suggested using a space heater on any plumbing that is located on an outside wall.

If a pipe does burst, Tilton said, you need to know how to cut the water off before help arrives.

Giglio said what you need to do next depends on whether it was a pipe that supplies hot water or one that provides cold water.

“If the pipe busts on the hot water side, there is a valve located on top of the water heater. A shutoff valve that can be turned off,” Giglio said.

“If it is on the cold side, then the water can be turned off at the main shutoff valve in the street, which will be located in the meter box.”

Tilton added that you need not do without cold water if a hot water line breaks. “If your hot water line busts, you can still have water by just turning off the water heater and leaving your cold running.

“With it being this cold, you could have problems with both. If that’s the case, you’re going to have to turn it off at the street.”

Tilton and Giglio both said they expect to be busy for the next several weeks, which is why it’s so important for homeowners to prepare now.

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