Frosty temps cause frozen pipes, cities offer precautionary tips

MEDFORD, Ore.– With temperatures expected to reach the teens over the next few nights, it may be a good idea to check your homes and make sure your pipes are protected.

Plumbers tell NBC5 News they receive a flood of calls in the springtime for burst pipes. It’s something they answer every year but both cities and local businesses have precautionary measures you can take and the chance to avoid thousands of dollars in damages come next year.

According to Jerry Ashley, the general manager of Hukill’s Inc., he’s seen plenty of these and some like one woman he knew had her situation turn from bad to worse.

“She turned on the hose to water her yard during the day when she got back, water was coming out of her front door and her bill was $38,000,” he said.

Ashley has been with the company for eight years. He’s seen some bad years for frozen pipes over that time and this year won’t be an exception.

“We’re getting down into the teens and that’s where we start seeing pipes break,” he said.

Ashley says the problem they see most is when people leave their homes for vacation and turn off their heater. The other is not removing hoses from outdoor faucets.

“This is filled with water if you don’t remove the hose,” he said, pointing to a freeze-proof hose bib. “Otherwise this drains out by itself and prevents it from freezing. If that hose is attached you’re not preventing it. These will be breaking tonight at thirty degrees – these will break.”

While most houses built after the ’80s are installed with freeze-proof hose bibs, Ashley says that it doesn’t mean they won’t freeze. The best thing to do is turn off your irrigation, take off the hose and make sure to plug the faucet.

Many cities post reminders to residents to take these precautions as well. The Medford Water Commission says one thing it sees during the first freeze of the season is irrigation and sprinklers are left on. When those freeze, they can become a hazard for anyone walking along the sidewalk. The commission says the best thing to do is call its office so it can turn off the water.

According to the Medford Water Commission, there are several other important things you should do:

– Disconnect garden hoses in the fall before freezing temperatures arrive.
– Insulate plumbing (hot water pipes too) in unheated areas
– Seal crawl space vents during very cold weather
– If you are going somewhere, leave the thermostat set no lower than 55 degrees F.

“It will save you a lot of damage when you come home and find everything broken,” said Ashley.

He says most times insurance won’t cover a burst pipe from frost because it’s up to the homeowner to prevent it. So if you’re hoping to have a stress-free spring, keeping the pipes unfrozen can save you a lot of hassle.

For the next couple days and nights, as it gets colder, the Medford Water Commission suggests you heat all rooms with plumbing fixtures. If a pipe should freeze, make sure you thaw it out with a hairdryer or heat lamp – not an open flame.

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