Cold Weather Causes Costly Plumbing Problems

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – In the past decade, North Texas has seen just half a dozen days where temperatures dipped to 15 degrees or below—so frigid weather here is rare.

“I mean, it was 70 [degrees] on Saturday,” North Texan Melanie Evanko said, “so, yeah, I was surprised it got this cold!”

Evanko knows to open the cabinet doors and let faucets drip to prevent frozen pipes; but, is honest. “I did not,” she admitted with a smile… but, rushed to explain that it was “just because it’s not supposed to stay cold that long.  I just sort of felt like I could get away with one night.  If it’s going to stay this way, I’ll start dripping the faucets.”

But, plumbers caution that the ‘dripping faucet’ advice applies to indoor plumbing only. Outside plumbing is another story. “What happens is, it freezes so fast, that little bit becomes an ice cube and it gets worse and worse,” explained Chance Roberson with C&W Plumbing, as he checked out a frozen pipe in North Dallas.

Roberson says a few dollars spent on outdoor faucet covers could save homeowners hundreds in repair bills, but the cover must be secured correctly. “You need to push it in hard enough to seal that air tight.  If the air is still getting in through the cracks in the brick, that may not do you any good and it could even be worse if you’re trapping cold air inside.”

Roberson is also encouraging homeowners to check attic pipes for proper insulation as well.  He says many homeowners are now opting for hot water recirculation pumps that come equipped with timers to keep hot water circulating throughout the system—virtually eliminating the risk of freezing while also conserving water that isn’t going down the drain while waiting for it to warm.

But, warmer weather overall, is still a few days away.  As that happens, experts are also cautioning homeowners to keep a close ear for the sound of running water in the walls—or moisture in unexpected places—because the worst may be yet to come.

“A couple of days from now is when things that you didn’t know were frozen are going to begin to thaw out,” Roberson said.  “And when they do, if a pipe happens to be split in an area where the water didn’t get out—it’s going to come out.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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