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— Frozen or broken water pipes can cause damage to homes during extreme cold and homeowners should take stepstoensuretheirplumbing is safe, said Doug Petty, Miller County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

“If pipes in the walls aren’t properly insulated, they can freeze and rupture,” he said. A crack in a pipe just one-eighth of an inch thick can release up to 250 gallons of water a day — soaking floors, rugs and furniture.

Make sure to take steps to prevent damage. These include:

• Locate and insulate pipes that are the most susceptible to freezing — typically those near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.

• Only use insulation made especially for insulating pipes. Wrap pipes with heat tape approved by Underwriters Laboratories.

• Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.

• Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. Let hot and cold water trickle at night from a faucet on the outside wall. These steps help reduce the chance of freezing.

• Open cabinet doors to allow more heat to reach uninsulated pipes under a sink or appliances near an outer wall.

• Make sure the home’s heating system is running and set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. When away from the house for trips or vacations, have someone check the house daily to ensure the heat is still on.

• Drain and shut off sprinkler systems.

Sometimes frozen or broken water pipes won’t be noticed until it’s too late. If the pipes are already frozen, shut off the water immediately. If possible, shut off the water to just the affected areas. “For example, shut off the valve normally located on the cold water side of the hot water tank if a hot water pipe is frozen,” said Petty. This will allow for continued use of preventative measures.

Be aware of potential dangers. Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch or an electrical device that is not fault protected and be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water.

Homeowners with frozen or broken water pipes should also call a plumber and their insurance agent as soon as possible.

Sports, Pages 13 on 12/16/2009

Print Headline: Extension Agent Gives Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes During Frigid Winter Weather

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