Protect your pipes now before the deep freeze sets in

How to avoid water damage from frozen pipes

State Farm Insurance offers tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing during the winter.
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State Farm Insurance offers tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing during the winter.

The weather descending on the South Sound is bound to burst some pipes when it arrives.

Sunday’s low is expected to be 16 in Tacoma. Then, a week of lows in the 20s is coming with highs staying in the 30s.

“It definitely is a recipe for disaster,” said Spencer Chambers, the owner of Chambers Construction and Restoration in Tacoma. His family has been in the home-repair business for 37 years.

It’s those long periods of below-freezing temperatures that can lead to broken pipes, Chambers said Saturday.

Pipes break when water that is trapped inside freezes and expands. With no escape route, water bursts metal and plastic piping.

When those pipes thaw, homeowners are suddenly deluged with flooding and expensive repair bills.

Chambers has some tips:

If you’re leaving home for the day or weekend, maintain inside heat at 55 degrees or above, including in the basement. In extreme cold, open cabinet doors attached to exterior walls that contain plumbing. That allows warm air to reach water pipes.

Inside or outside, insulate any vulnerable pipe with foam insulation that can be purchased at any hardware store.

Outside your home, disconnect hoses. Attach protective insulated domes.

“Some customers choose to run cold-water faucets constantly,” Chambers said. It’s also a way to monitor the freezing of pipes.

Know where your master shutoff valve is. Some are in parking strips between streets and sidewalks, far from the home. They may be buried under snow.

If a pipe does freeze, Chambers advises against a torch or open flame to thaw it. The best tool, he said, is a hair dryer set on a low setting.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.