Freezing weather causes indoor water pipes to burst at record pa - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Freezing weather causes indoor water pipes to burst at record pace

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This cold weather is doing a number on water mains all across the region. You have seen them: crews tearing up roadways to fix the underground pipes.

But we are also hearing about indoor water pipes that are bursting in record numbers this winter causing serious damage to homes all across the metro area.

We didn't have to look far to see some of that damage. One of our FOX 5 colleagues and her family have gotten walloped pretty badly.

"It burst from the cold air. And when it burst, it just sprayed," says Terry Shaw from inside his home in Greenbelt, Md. "And when it came down, when I finally got that call, it already did all the damage."

All the drywall is gone. Most of the carpeting too. All thanks to a pipe that ruptured upstairs -- part of the home's fire protection sprinkler system.

"It's insane," Shaw says. "It's that cold that it did this much damage."

Roughly $50,000 in damage. The water, they believe, was gushing for about two hours.

"It was like an ice rink because the water on the carpet had frozen," says Sonya Shaw. "So it was slippery, even just walking on the carpet."

The Shaws and two of their children will spend four to six months in a rental home after three weeks in a motel.

This month's brutal cold and biting wind has been bursting pipes at a record pace, according to Washington area plumbing companies.

"Just like wind chill on our bodies, it's the same thing with pipes," says Allan Oddenino, a plumbing supervisor with CroppMetcalfe. "So if you have just a cold, cold night, 10 degrees, 20 degrees -- not so bad. But when you have wind driving that cold inward into the home where air can get in, that's when the pipes freeze and burst."

Phones have been ringing non-stop at CroppMetcalfe's call center in Fairfax, Va. Their best advice to avoid a disaster at your place: shut down your outdoor irrigation systems, put away garden hoses and winterize outdoor spigots.

And inside your home, you can leave your faucets on.

"I've heard dripping," Mr. Oddenino says, "but probably a stream faster than a drip would be appropriate for the cold weather we've had. Moving water won't freeze or won't freeze as easily."

And he says try to warm pipes near exterior walls of your home -- especially in the kitchen.

"People can leave the cabinets open," he says. "Leave the cabinets open and increase the heat in the house is really all they can do."

Despite all their troubles, the Shaws say they feel blessed.

"Because even though this has happened to us, it's still better off than some other people, so I just keep it in perspective,” says Terry Shaw.

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