Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL


January 5, 2010

Frozen pipes can ruin your morning coffee

Winter’s bitter cold can bring icy roads, chilled hands and frozen ponds, but the below freezing temperatures can also bring unseen hazards to your home.

Keeping pipes from freezing and bursting in the cold air may not seem like a worry, but exposed pipes on a cold winter’s night may keep you from that first cup of coffee in the early morning.

Mark McGinnis, lead plumber with Mathias Electric and Plumbing in Altamont, said the No. 1 reason pipes freeze is wind. Exposed pipes will typically freeze at an average of 20 degrees, and the wind chill doesn’t help.

This weekend, the temperature is only expected to get up into the low teens, and 55 degrees is the coolest McGinnis advises for the home be to avoid frozen water pipes.

To help shield water lines from the extreme weather, pipes can be insulated. This will keep the draft off the pipes, but they must be completely covered. McGinnis said even an exposed 1/2 inch of pipe can freeze, causing a halt in the flow of water.

Homes at the highest risk of freezing pipes are those that have crawlspaces instead of basements. Unlike basements, crawlspaces are not heated like the rest of the home. Therefore, the pipes freeze easier because of the exposed winter air.

To prevent the freeze, McGinnis advised closing all the vents to the crawlspace. Homeowners will typically open the vents in the summer to allow a cooling breeze under the home, but owners must remember to close them before the weather gets too cold. The cold breeze underneath the home will more than likely freeze the water lines, McGinnis said.

Homeowners might also try running water to keep a flow through the pipes. This usually means a dripping kitchen sink faucet, but with even more extreme temperatures set to arrive in a few days, McGinnis advised running a little more water through the lines.

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