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Frozen pipes are snow joke. How to prevent the costly breaks in your home

As winter weather enters the Quad Cities, it's important that homeowners take steps to prevent expensive plumbing problems.
Credit: Adobe Stock
Frozen icicles hang from a pipe

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Although the Quad Cities doesn't typically see its first inch of snow until early December, the area is expected to see its first flakes of the season during the week of Nov. 8. 

As colder weather sneaks in, it's important that renters and homeowners take take steps to prevent costly pipe breaks and water meter freezes.

State Farm reported Illinois was the No. 1 state for frozen pipe water loss claims in the U.S., and loss claims related to frozen pipes totaled more than $270 million nationwide in 2018.

To help protect your pipes and meters from the frigid temperatures quickly approaching, follow these tips that Iowa American Water shared Monday, Nov. 8.

Ahead of the cold:

  • Make sure everyone in your household is aware where the main water shut-off valve is located in the event of an emergency.
  • Check to see if any water pipes pass through unheated areas of your home, like crawlspaces or garages.
  • You can protect any exposed pipes in your home by wrapping them in pre-molded foam rubber sheets, heat tape or fiber glass insulation - all available at your hardware store.
  • If your water meter is located outside, make sure the lid is tightly sealed.
  • If you plan to leave your home for a few days or more, be sure to leave your thermostat on at least 55 degrees to prevent freezing.

When we reach below-freezing temps:

  • If sinks are located along exterior walls, open below-sink cabinet doors to allow warm air to reach the pipes.
  • Leave a small trickle of water running overnight to help prevent freezing and collect the water in a bucket to reuse - no water waste!

In the event your pipes do freeze:

  • Shut off your water immediately.
  • Do not attempt to thaw the pipes while the water is still on. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes that will leak once thawed.
  • Apply heat - avoid use kerosene heaters or open flames - to the air around the frozen pipe.
  • Once unthawed, make sure to slowly turn the water back on and check for any new cracks or leaks.