Preventing Pipes from Bursting in the Cold

RENO, NV--The cold snap is causing concern for pipes in our homes. The pipes that are outside are the ones that are most at risk.

"Pipes freeze... So that's the main issue," said Jim Walker, owner of Jet Plumbing.

The situation may look grim but there could still be time to remedy the situation.

"If peoples' pipes are going to freeze, has it already happened? Not necessarily and that depends on where they are, the exposure, the duration of the exposure that it's different every year," said Walker.

Inside pipes are warmed by a home's heat, but they'll be even less likely to freeze if faucets are left dripping. Walker says exterior pipes are most susceptible.

"If you leave the hose on the end of it then the barrel part here stays full of water and then it can freeze and split," said Walker.

Water expands when it freezes, so much so the outward pressure can cause a pipe to rupture, causing a problem when water starts to flow uncontrollably.

"Try to locate where your shutoff valve is on your own property," said Geoff Daforno with Truckee Meadows Water Authority.

It's usually near the street in an underground box. Turn the valve to stop the flow.

"You just never know when it is going to happen and sometimes you won't know until it thaws out," said Daforno.

Daforno says freezing pipes affect more than just houses.

"As we go through the freeze thaw cycle this time of year it's inevitable we'll have a water main break," said Daforno.

When that happens, TMWA wants you to call them so they can restore service quickly and prevent the flowing water from damaging nearby homes. Something to remember here: if your pipes have already burst, you may not know yet. Once the temperatures increase and ice starts to thaw, that's when you'll start to notice water is flowing in places it shouldn't be.

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