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Home Maintenance

Protecting frozen, bursting water pipes in cold weather temperatures

Some may be dealing with frozen and busted water pipes, due to the below freezing temperatures in the area. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with water pipes and the cold.

Indoor pipes can freeze, depending on temperatures, insulation, and placement in the building, according to Charles County Government. Pipes located in attics, above ceilings, in crawl spaces and basements, and close to exterior walls often freeze as well when the insulation is bad or wall cracks that allow cold air to enter.

Residents should know where the main water shut-off valve or valves are in case of an emergency. According to Charles County Government, citizens should never try to thaw a frozen pipe by using an open flame.

It is important to monitor water-based fire protection systems including automatic sprinkler systems, fire pumps, hoses and hydrants.

Here are a few way to prevent pipes from bursting or ice formation within the pipes, according to Charles County Government:

• Always place piping in heated areas of a building.

• Properly insulate attics, exterior walls, and other areas lacking adequate heating.

• Repair broken windows, ill-fitting doors, and other conditions that allow heat loss.

• Keep exterior doors closed, even if not in the immediate vicinity of piping.

• Maintain heat in buildings at all times. No area with piping should be allowed to fall below 40°F (4°C). (This requires regular maintenance, inspection, and servicing of existing heating equipment, and safe emergency measures during a prolonged power failure.)

• Shut off water lines and drain all pipes if the building is to be left unattended for an extended period. (The exceptions are sprinkler systems unless all combustible materials are removed and the building is noncombustible or fire-resistive.)

• Provide insulation around a pipe sufficient to reduce heat loss, or provide heat tracing, if the pipe might be exposed to freezing temperatures.

• Install low temperature alarms (with remote monitoring) in cold-prone areas.

• Adequately maintain and prepare dry-pipe sprinkler systems for cold weather (drain low points, etc.).

• Properly service and winterize private yard hydrants.

• Clear snow and ice from private yard hydrants, outside hose connections, and fire protection system valves to help prevent freezing of these systems.