Keeping your pipes healthy as temperatures drop

Posted at 4:30 AM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-26 06:05:26-05

CINCINNATI -- As temperatures drop, every homeowner's chance of having to deal with frozen and broken water lines rises. 

Erik Wake, who works with Jolly Plumbing, doesn't mind that his schedule fills up when the weather begins clocking in below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but most of the customers calling him do. A few hours of below-freezing temperatures can cause thousands of dollars in damages.

"Every plumber in town is usually pretty booked up with them," he said. "You don't think about (frozen water lines) until you walk in, you hear water running and it's too late."

Wake said older homes with poor insulation deal with these problems most frequently, since cracks in the exterior walls or a lack of basement heating can give the cold easy access to their pipes. Just a little bit of damage can take a significant bite out of the owner's wallet.

Most of this damage occurs when the people living in a particular home are away for an extended period of time, Wake added. The holidays are a perfect example. Without water flowing through a building's plumbing system, pipes freeze more quickly. Ice expands inside the pipes, splitting them and creating a leak.

If you're worried the pipes in your home are vulnerable to freezing and breaking over your holiday, here's what Wake recommends.

  1. Leave the water running when you leave -- just enough to keep your faucet or shower head dripping slightly. Water traveling through your pipes will fight off freezing.
  2. Put a space heater near vulnerable pipes, such as those in exterior walls. Keeping them heated will prevent ice from forming/
  3. If you do notice freezing lines, shut off the main valve. "After that, you want to find a sink in the lowest level and open that up," Wake said. "That'll drain all the water out of the house."