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Cold weather can mean frozen pipes

The Miami Valley is seeing temperatures typically reserved for January or February, putting residential waterlines at risk of freezing and potentially causing thousands of dollars in damages.

“You start seeing single-digit temperatures for (several) days in a row and you’ll see a lot more of that,” said Brian Birch, an agent for AAA Insurance. “We’ll begin to see the claims come pouring in.”

When water freezes, it expands. This can cause pipes inside a home to split or explode. Experts say uninsulated pipes can have ice blockage when the temperature dips below 20 degrees.

“Insulating pipes is probably the best way to prevent this,” said Storm Center 7 meteorologist Rich Wirdzek. “Letting a faucet drip can also prevent freezing, since the moving water slows the freezing process.”

Most insurance policies cover freezing or an accidental overflow of water. Still, Birch said thousands of dollars in damage can follow a broken pipe. And if it happens, the first thing residents should do is turn off the water at the main valve.

“In my career, I’ve seen untold amounts of extra damage done because folks just let the water run,” he said.

AAA also said if a faucet is turned on and nothing comes out, then people should leave the faucet on and call a plumber. Further, it’s an immediate risk for homeowners to try to thaw the pipes themselves. Switching from one extreme temperature to another can be dangerous.

“People definitely get creative when things like that happen and sometimes patience isn’t always had in those times of need,” Birch said. “There are a lot of do-it-yourself handymen out there and they will use open flames, blow torches, all kinds of different things to expedite the unfreezing process.”

As a former Chicagoan, Chandra Gollamundi, now of Beavercreek, said a frozen pipe can be a perpetual concern. Still, she hasn’t had to deal with it yet.

“The thing is we always have somebody in the house,” she said. “My mother-in-law lives with me and she’s always turning on the hot water.

“I think that’s one of the reasons I don’t have problems,” she said with a laugh.

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