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|Full story: Frozen pipes can be prevented|
You can avoid a frozen pipe crisis and all of the misery that comes with it — being without water while on a plumber's long waiting list and thousands of dollars of damage to your walls, floors and furniture — by taking a few simple measures to protect your home.
According to Dr. Claudette Reichel, LSU AgCenter housing specialist, when a bitter cold front rolls in, be sure your home's water pipes are protected.
"When water freezes, it expands," Reichel says. "If ice forms in your home's water pipes, it can shatter pipe seals or the pipes themselves, sending water pouring through your house."
Reichel said, "To winterize a house that will be vacant in frigid temperatures without heat, it is recommended to drain pipes. For hard freeze conditions, many recommend adding nontoxic antifreeze (RV or boat antifreeze – NOT auto antifreeze) in the toilet bowls (about 1/3 gallon) and the p-traps of sinks and drains (about 2 cups) – or having a professional plumber drain and winterize the entire system.
Reichel gives these tips to avoid frozen pipe problems:
— Insulate all exposed outdoor and attic pipes with weather-resistant material. Make sure all surfaces of the pipe are covered.
— If an extended and deep freeze is expected, insulation alone may not be sufficient. Consider installing electric heat tape or cable with a built-in thermostat. Be sure the heat tape bears an Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) seal and is in good condition.
— Use insulating faucet covers, or wrap rags, paper, trash bags or plastic foam around outdoor faucets. Installing pressure-relief valves on outdoor faucets also helps prevent bursting of pipes that freeze.
— Temporarily cover any vents around your home's foundation.
— Bring water hoses indoors.
— Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated indoor air to circulate around water pipes.
— If you normally set back your thermostat at night or when away from home, change the setting to keep some heat on until the severe freeze is over.
— Insulate your outdoor water meter box and be sure its lid is on tight.
— Protect outdoor electrical pumps.
— If you have a swimming pool, either drain the circulation system or keep the pump motor running. (Run the pump motor only in a short freeze. Running the motor for long periods could damage it.)
— If your home has exposed pipes and a severe freeze is expected, let faucets run at a slow trickle, but don't run a big stream of water.
— Make sure everyone in your household knows where the main water shut-off valve is and check it to make sure it isn't stuck.
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