Tips to keep pipes from freezing

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 | 4:23 p.m. CST; updated 8:47 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

COLUMBIA — Freezing pipes are an issue during winter because of the severe weather. One local plumber offers helpful hints to prevent pipes from stopping up with ice.

The wind is the worst part because it causes them to freeze faster, said Bill Johnson, owner of Johnson Plumbing.

He said he expected calls about frozen pipes in the evening on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning because of falling temperatures and gusting wind.

“The pipes can stand a lot as far as it being cold, but once the wind starts hitting it, it starts freezing faster,” Johnson said.

Although the snow helps to insulate exposed pipes from the chilling wind, there are methods to prevent pipe freezing, Johnson said.

One of the things people often forget to do is remove hoses from the outside water faucets, Johnson said.

“That’s one that’s easily overlooked,” he said.

If you live in a crawl space house, which is a house that is suspended a couple feet from the ground with exposed pipes and plumbing underneath, make sure to close up the openings around the house to block the wind from accessing the pipes, Johnson said.

To do this, Johnson said people can use blue or pink foam board, which can be purchased from a home improvement store. They can also use wood boards or a piece of plastic such as tarp.

If the pipes are in a cabinet, leaving the cabinet doors open will let the heat from the room reach the pipes, which will heat them so they don't freeze, he said.

Finally, leaving the faucet running just a small steady drip, will keep the pipes from icing up, Johnson said.

“Water’s a lot more difficult to freeze when it’s moving,” he said.

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