COLD WEATHER TIPS: Prepare, protect your pipes - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

COLD WEATHER TIPS: Prepare, protect your pipes

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With bitter cold in the forecast, many people are bundling up to protect their skin -- but plumbers warn that pipes need protection from the cold too, and FOX 9 News got tips on how to keep them from cracking.

Dave Vogelgesang, of Aqua City Plumbing, has decades of experience in the plumbing business -- and he offered several tips, and debunked a few myths, on how to avoid a frozen frustration.

"Typically, it's on an outside-wall kitchen area," Vogelgesang pointed out as he worked on a pipe that was also tucked under an unheated garage.

Vogelgesang says homeowners can prevent their kitchen pipes from freezing by simply opening up the kitchen cabinets so warm air can get inside.

"It's better than leaving your water trickle," he added. "That can cause problems because the waste line is also in that cold area. If the waste line freezes up, it's going to be just like an icicle. Then … it's going to overflow."

On really cold days, using a simple floor fan to keep warm air flowing toward pipes can offer a bit of extra heat.

Vogelgesang also recommends resisting the urge to turn down the heat if the house is empty on days when the temperatures dip.

"On a cold day like tomorrow when the wind is really going to be pushing, don't keep your heat down," he recommended. "Keep it at normal setting."

The tell-tale sign of a frozen pipe is a suddenly non-functioning faucet, and it can make for an awful mess.

"The worst one I saw, I was walking up the front sidewalk and there was water running up to the front door," he recalled.

Vogelgesang says those looking for more permanent piece of mind can attach a circulator to the water heater. Installation runs between $250-400, but it will move hot water through the pipes as often as you want.

"There is a timer you can set for any time of day you like," he said.

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