Freezing pipes cause headaches for homeowners. How to protect them

Hadas Kuznits
January 30, 2019 - 2:53 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With temperatures expected to drop to the single digits Wednesday night, some residents in the Philadelphia area might have some plumbing and heating issues. 

Registered master plumber Art Abraham says extreme cold can take a toll on pipes.

"When water becomes ice, it expands and the pipes can't hold that and the pipes break.  They split open; and then when the water thaws out again, the water's running through that broken pipe and that causes a lot of damage."

Abraham says he gets a lot of calls this time of year.

"When it gets really bitter cold in the middle of the night kind of thing, that's when you're gonna get the freeze-ups," he said.

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He says pipes located on the inside of insulation are okay.

"We call that the thermal envelope," he said. "If you have any pipes that go outside that thermal envelope, outside of your insulated barrier, they're going to be cold."

He says that's not uncommon.

"In Philadelphia they have a lot of back sheds that have plumbing in them for either laundry or kitchens, and they're gonna freeze because they're outside the thermal envelope," he said.

He says the most susceptible pipes are the ones that run through unheated parts of a home, like attics and crawl spaces.

"And some pipes in the city of Philadelphia, especially in older homes, they might not be engineered the best way, and they may be on an outside wall."

He says homeowners with anticipating freezing pipes can leave the tap open a little bit. "Let it run," he said. "It'll protect it from freezing, because running water has a harder time freezing."

Also, he said: Make sure all hoses are disconnected in winter.

"They should always make sure that their hose bibs outside are turned off," he said. "Usually there's a valve on the inside of the house, maybe in the basement somewhere."

And turn off any water that goes to the outside of a house. 

"You don't realize how important water is in your life until you don't have it!"