STILL WATER – Winter temperatures can lead to frozen pipes in the home and even bigger problems if the pipes burst, said Gina Peek, interim dean and consumer specialist at the Oklahoma State University Extension.
“Freezing water creates a lot of pressure in the pipe, which in turn can cause the pipe to burst. This can lead to severe flooding, especially when nobody is home or at night when everyone is sleeping, ”Peek said. “Your best prevention method is to keep the pipes warm enough to stay above freezing.”
Peek shared some inexpensive tips to avoid breakage and severe water damage:
• • Keep the heat on: For those planning vacation times away from home, the thermostat doesn’t need to be set as high as when people are around. Even 50 F are still warm enough for pipes.
• • Keep cabinet doors open: Pipes are often located in cabinets on an outside wall. So keeping these doors open can help heat circulation. Open room doors can also make a difference.
• • Let the faucets drip: The same drop-drop-drop that can be so frustrating when trying to sleep provides pressure relief for a cold pipe system. If a tap has both hot and cold water pipes, open both taps slightly. A one-hand tap should be warm.
• • Closing cracks and holes: Check the pipes around the house and seal the gaps with caulking or spray foam around the holes where the pipes go through walls or floors. Also check the outside taps and fill these gaps.
• • Attach heating tape: The heating tape works much like an electric blanket and delivers heat directly to the pipe. This is a great option for short sections of pipe that are at high risk of freezing. There are two types of heating cables: products that turn on and off automatically and those that require manual adjustment. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• • Add insulation: Pipes in areas such as the garage, basement, or attic can benefit from an extra layer. Tubes can often be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves.
• • Protect external taps: Faucets and faucets that are directly exposed to the weather can be particularly vulnerable. You can find protective covers at most hardware stores. Also, disconnect the water hoses and fill in any gaps around the faucet.
“If you discover a frozen pipe in your house, shut off the water to the house immediately. You may be able to slowly thaw the tube by wrapping it in towels soaked in hot water, ”Peek said. “If you cannot quickly thaw the pipe, cannot find the frozen pipe, or if a pipe has burst, contact a licensed plumber as soon as possible.”