How To Keep Pipes From Freezing During Maryland Cold Snap

By Staff Reporter
Posted on 01/11/19 | News Source: Pikesville Patch

These tips can help prevent frozen pipes this winter. Plus, ways to handle your insurance claim if your Maryland house is damaged.

BALTIMORE, MD — With wind chills that will feel like the teens at times this week in Maryland, and overnight lows remaining in the 20s, it's important to know how to prevent your home's water pipes from freezing. Frozen water pipes in unheated basements and crawl spaces can be messy and expensive to repair. But if you wake up to a frozen faucet, there are steps you can take to safely thaw out a frozen water line without burning down the house.

Fire officials say it's important during long cold spells to monitor automatic sprinkler systems, fire pumps, hoses and hydrants. Whether or not pipes in these systems actually burst, any freezing of water can block water flow needed in case of fire.

The National Weather Service forecast for Maryland calls for a high near 40 on Thursday, but strong winds will gust as high as 40 mph. This weekend expect a 50 percent chance of snow on Saturday, mainly after 1 p.m. with a high near 33. The odds of snow climb to 60 percent Saturday night and on Sunday; forecasters aren't yet estimating just how much snow will fall. Meanwhile, overnight lows will be in the low to mid 20s for the next seven days.

Follow these tips from the American Red Cross, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services:

Preventing Frozen Pipes

There are three common causes of frozen pipes:
1. Quick drops in temperature 
2. Poor insulation 
3. Thermostats set too low

Luckily, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to keep your pipes from freezing:

To prevent ice from forming in pipes due to freezing temperatures and to prevent the pipes from bursting, experts recommend that you:

If you have a pipe that bursts, AAA Mid-Atlantic shared these tips to help you file and manage insurance claims.

Why Frozen Pipes Are a Problem

Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts extreme pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor water faucets, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.

A 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mold.

In the U.S., frozen pipes cause significant damage every year, but they often can be prevented. Taking a few simple steps, even now, may save you trouble and expense.