Warming water pipes, checking for leaks important during extreme cold

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) While people can feel bitter cold weather, something they may not remember, which are freezing as well, could be pipes. And the damage it can cause, could cost homeowners thousands.

The major concerns plumbers and contractors have is how easily damage can happen and people may not know until it's too late.

One contractor in Blacksburg said Monday he hasn't received any calls yet, but his business usually gets reports of frozen or even burst pipes sometime during the cold months.

As pipes get cold, with water running through them, severe damage can happen if the water starts to freeze.

Andrew Petersen owns Petersen Home Services.

He said on how to prevent that, "Keep any exposed pipes heated somehow if they're in a garage, running through the ceiling of a garage, or maybe the basement that's not conditioned. Having those pipes insulated and/or just spending the extra cash and putting a little space heater down there for them."

But if someone was on vacation for the holidays, as Petersen was Monday in New York, it's important to check for damage upon returning home.

"Really just take 10 minutes and walk around and do a quick check and make sure you're not seeing any wet spots on the ground," he said. "It's pretty easy to see your leaks coming through the ceiling. If it's a leak that's been going on a while, you're not going to miss it, it'll be pretty obvious."

If something like that is happening, Petersen explained it's important to address it immediately.

While a plumber or contractor can make repairs, and home insurance can usually help with the cost, there is something to do immediately if water is somewhere in the home.

"Know where the main water shutoff is and turn that off right away," Petersen advised. "Maybe you don't know where it is right now, so I would suggest figuring out where that is and marking that or writing it down somewhere so you know where to look for it."

He went onto say more than half the homeowners he visits for repairs don't know where the water shutoff is, but it can be crucial this time of year.

He also said it's a bad idea to try to save some money, when on vacation, by not running the heat. He keeps his own home at 55 or 60 degrees.

That's because a little higher heating bill can be nothing compared to repairs costs that run from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the damage.

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