Super-low temperatures bringing risk of broken pipes

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Frozen pipes

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Records could be smashed over the next couple of days as a powerful cold front plunges down from Canada dropping our temperatures into the single digits.

ABC11 Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann said the low at Raleigh Durham International Airport Wednesday night is forecast to drop to 9 degrees. Thursday night, it could be 4!

Plumbers say they expect to be busy as temperatures that low usually lead to frozen pipes and flooding damage in homes and businesses.

"When the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, water pipes in homes with little or no insulation are likely to freeze and break," explained Anna Bryant with State Farm Insurance.

Bryant said even a small leak caused by freezing can cause extensive damage.

"A one-eighth inch crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day, destroying floors, soaking furniture, and ruining personal items. Cleaning up after a pipe burst is time consuming and smelly work, made even more difficult by the frigid temperatures," she said.

Jeff Bleacher, with Vance Johnson Plumbing Company in Fayetteville, offered some tips to prevent freezing and save yourself costly repair bills.

He said the old trick of leaving faucets on a slight drip really works. Having a faucet slightly open can relieve the pressure in a pipe that builds up when it freezes - preventing it from rupturing.

Dripping both hot and cold taps is important, as hot water lines are sometimes more vulnerable to breakage.

"Homeowners should make sure that all outside hoses are disconnected from the hose bibs, and open up cabinets inside their homes to allow warm air to reach the waterlines," said Bleacher.

Bleacher said if your home has a crawl space underneath, then make sure you close the dampers on your vents to keep in the warm air.

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