Below-freezing temperatures returned to the D.C. region Wednesday night, and with that comes an increased risk of flooding from frozen pipes.
Many of the pipe bursts involve pipes that lead to the spigot outside, according to Wesley Bush, owner of Alliance Water Restoration in Chantilly, Virginia.
“Hose bibs become the greatest issue as far as causing water leaks that people aren’t prepared for,” Bush said.
When the pipes that supply the outdoor faucet with water freeze and expand, he said that at times leads to the pipe splitting.
“As soon as it thaws out, you have full pressure that’s blowing water into your basement,” he said.
To prevent this, you should winterize your home by locating the indoor shutoff valves for the water lines that lead to the outdoor faucet. Once you shut off the water using those valves, turn on the spigot outside so the water inside the pipe drains out, Bush said.
Not taking this simple step can lead to thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a home, especially in homes with finished basements.
“You’re looking anywhere from two to three inches of water throughout the basement if you don’t get it (the water) shut off in time,” Bush said.
While the pipes leading outside can be the biggest culprits for water leaks, Bush said homes with kitchens that extend from the structure can also see pipes freeze.
“That area can get very cold because it’s jetted out further from the house,” he said
He said one way to protect the pipes is to leave the cabinets open so the heat from inside the home reaches the pipes. Also, he said using heat tape, which is a flexible cable which uses electricity to keep pipes from freezing.
Also, if you plan to take an extended trip, consider shutting off the water in your home, and turning on a faucet to clear the pipes of water.
“That way if you’re gone for an extended period of time, you don’t have to worry about that pipe breaking and then flooding your house,” Bush said.