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Protect Your Pipes This Winter

Cold temperatures can lead to expensive plumbing repairs, but there are steps you can take to reduce your home's risk.

This week's cold temperatures increase the chances of water freezing inside residential plumbing, potentially leading to burst pipes, flooded basements, and other costly repairs that are not necessarily covered by homeowner's insurance policies.

To help reduce the risk of frozen and broken water pipes, water utility Aqua Pennsylvania issued a series of tips.

  • Homeowners should wrap pipes in unheated areas of a home with insulation material or heat tape, and wrap indoor water meters with a blanket.
  • Steps should be taken to prevent drafts in unheated areas. Exposed pipes in these areas can also be heated with portable space heaters.
  • Kitchen sinks and other interior plumbing located against exterior walls should be heat taped. If no small children are in the house, cabinet doors beneath the sink can be opened to allow the interior house air to heat the pipes.
  • All outdoor faucets should be shut off and drained.
  • Low temperatures this week are expected to be in the teens. If temperatures remain near 10 degrees homeowners may want to leave "a very thin stream" of water running from at least one tap, preferably the one furthest from the water meter. "The additional cost of the water is cheaper than the cost of repairing ruptured pipes," the company said.
  • If a pipe does freeze, and you can locate the frozen area, you can attempt to use heat tape or a hair dryer to thaw it.
  • If a pipe does rupture and begin leaking, shut off the home's water at the property's master valve. Locate your master valve if you're not sure where it is.

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