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Thu, April 25

Ask the Contractor: Chill out: It's easy to avoid having your pipes freeze

Q: A friend of mine had some awful water damage last year when we had severe freezing weather. What can I do to protect myself from freezing pipes?-Kathy, Prescott

A: If you want to avoid the misfortune of cleaning up a wet, cold mess on a freezing winter day, as many of our residents experienced last year, then Cathy Trent with State Farm in Prescott has some helpful hints for you.

There are simple solutions to prevent frozen pipes and ice dams.

Open the doors of cabinets with water pipes running through them, and run a small trickle of water from your hot and cold faucets. Paying a little more for water usage is certainly better than having your pipes freeze and burst. A three-millimeter break in a pipe can spew up to 250 gallons of water a day, wrecking floors, furniture and keepsakes. Then you'll have to pay contractors to tear out water-soaked carpet and wallboard, dry the remaining flooring of your home, and replace any damaged flooring.

Here are a few additional steps to protect your home:

• If you have a crawlspace and/or attic, make sure the pipes there are insulated.

Use heat tape to wrap pipes. Closely follow the manufacturer's installation and operation instructions.

• Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located.

• Disconnect garden hoses and drain/flush yard sprinkler systems.

• If you have a fire sprinkler system, in-

spect the piping to make sure it is insulated.

A lesser-known winter problem is ice damming. After several days of freezing/melting cycles, it is common for melted water and ice to work their way under the shingles until water enters the attic and eventually damages the ceilings, walls and interior.

• To reduce the

chances of an ice dam forming, thoroughly

clean all leaves and debris from your home's gutters and downspouts. Throughout winter, keep gutters and downspouts clear of snow and ice.

• Make every effort to keep snow on your roof to a minimum. Keeping heavy snow loads off your roof reduces the chances for both ice dam formation and roof issues.

• Evaluate the insulation and ventilation in your attic. Do you know the R-value of your attic insulation? You should. Many of our members will give free estimates for insulation and a review of exposed pipes.

The Prescott Fire Department was called to more than 100 waterline breaks, according to Prescott Fire Marshal Eric Kriwer. "Many of the calls about broken pipes were in places where the home's heat was not maintained," he added. Keeping the central heating at 55 degrees or higher can help you avoid frozen water pipes.

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