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How to protect pipes and cars from deep freeze

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CINCINNATI -- After receiving dozens of calls Monday about frozen pipes, Tri-State plumber Chris Dupont expects to get even more as the region’s freezing temperatures continue.

To prevent the mess that is frozen or burst pipes, Dupont says check any water pipes that may be prone to freezing.

If your bathroom or kitchen sink is against an outside window, Dupont says you should get warmth to those pipes.

"If you have any plumbing on the outside wall, that's usually where everything freezes," Dupont said. “You can always leave your doors open to the cabinet. If it’s any place that is a little cold, leave the doors open, get that room air in there."

He also said you should leave a small stream of water running overnight from your faucets. And if you’re worried about wasting money, running your faucet lightly won’t cost more than $1 or $2 in water.

Once you feel comfortable about your pipes and the water in your house, it’s then time to look at your car.

At Bob Sumerel Tire & Service in Newport, the biggest issue workers are seeing from the cold is low tires, which then cause driving problems.

“A lot of people are seeing the tire pressure light come on in their vehicle,” said Manager Jeremy Rice. “You’re gonna’ see a loss in air when the temperature starts to drop."

In addition to checking your tires, Rice recommends checking the antifreeze level in the radiator – if it’s too low, you wont get enough heat.

Also, don’t go out at night without jumper cables and something to stay warm.

"Some things you might want to put in your car: Road flare, jumper cables, some warm blankets in case you get stranded,” Rice said.

And fill the gas tank to keep moisture out of the tank and fuel lines.

COLD WEATHER TIPS:

According to Cincinnati Water Works, taking these steps before freezing temperatures arrive can help you avoid frozen pipes.

1. Seal cracks: Caulk around door frames and windows and around pipes where they enter the house to reduce incoming cold.

2. Wrap all pipes in unheated areas: Pipes in unheated areas such as the crawl space under the house, attic, garage and unheated basement should be wrapped to prevent freezing. Use insulating tape and wrap it over the entire length of exposed pipe. You can also use flexible molded pipe sleeves. Cover all valves, pipe fittings, etc. with insulating tape or fiberglass. We do not recommend electric heat tape for insulating water lines.

3. Protect outdoor pipes and faucets: In some homes, the outside faucet has its own shut-off in the basement in addition to the shut-off valve for the entire house. If you have a separate valve for outside faucets, close the valve, remove hoses and drain the faucet. If you don't have a separate valve, wrap the outside faucets (hose bibs) in newspapers or rags covered with plastic.

4. Drain in-ground sprinklers: Check the manufacturer's instructions for the best way to do this.

5. Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms: Water lines supplying these rooms are frequently on outside walls. Any air leaks in siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving the doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows them to get more heat.

6. Let faucets farthest from the street or at the end of the system drip in below-freezing weather: This will add to your bill, but the amount will be nothing compared to the inconvenience and cost if the meter or pipes freeze.

How to protect your car:

1. Look at your battery: If your car battery is more than 4 years old, it may be on its last legs and may not be able to start your car in below zero weather.

If that's the case, you may want to bring it to a repair or auto shop to have it tested and charged.  If it can no longer be fully charged, now is the time to buy a new battery, not on a morning when it is 10 below zero and your car won't start.

2. Check Antifreeze level: In addition, make sure you have enough antifreeze in the car's radiator.  Water is not antifreeze: never add plain water during winter months.

3. Fill the Gas Tank:  Finally, fill your car's gas tank.  A near-empty tank will have a lot of air in it, and moisture that can condense and freeze inside.  That can lead to fuel line freeze-up.

That way your car starts fine, and you don't waste your money.

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