Plumber gives tips to keep cold temps from bursting pipes

    Frigid temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst. (NBC Montana photo)<p>{/p}<p>{/p}

    Frigid weather isn’t just dangerous for your health, it can be harmful to your home. Once the temperature drops below 20, Flathead Valley plumber Lars Hamland said his plumbing company—Wild West Plumbing—sees a rise in burst pipes.

    “We can get up to 1,000 calls a month when it’s freezing like this,” Hamland said.

    Water can freeze and expand in pipes, causing them to burst. All houses are at risk, but Hamland said he often sees burst pipes in mobile homes and homes with crawl spaces.

    Insulation is one way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, and snow can actually help.

    “Bank snow up against crawl spaces and along skirting of mobile homes,” Hamland said, explaining snow can act as insulation.

    Opening up cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks allows warm air to get to the pipes and can help prevent them from freezing, as can running a little bit of water, Hamland said.

    “Water moving through a pipe usually doesn’t freeze,” he said, but he added running water could possibly cause sewer pipes to freeze. “It’s kind of a double-edge sword. If you leave it on, dribbling, your water pipe won’t freeze, but it can freeze your sewer pipes in the crawl spaces and under mobile homes.”

    Preventing pipes from freezing is important because Hamland said it can be hard to notice a broken pipe before it causes flooding and water damage.

    Repairing a broken pipe can be costly.

    “It can get up into the tens of thousands of dollars,” Hamland said.

    Sounds of rushing water, water damage and flooding can all indicate a burst pipe. With cold weather still ahead, Hamland said people should be aware of the possibility of burst pipes.

    “We are right in the middle of a really hard work period,” he said.

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