Weather changes lead to frozen, busted pipes

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - If you've been outside, you know we are now above freezing temperatures and that's causing big problems for water lines.

One Lawton plumber says over the last week, they've responded to dozens of calls for frozen and busted pipes. When we've got water in our pipes obviously it's going to freeze when we hit those low temperatures, but when it turns to ice, it expands and puts a lot of pressure on the pipes. Unfortunately, the pipes often cannot handle that pressure so they burst looking for a way to relieve it.

Plumber John McLaughlin said they've been swamped with calls of frozen pipes in recent days, but he thinks many people who have busted pipes might not even know it yet. That's because the ice in the pipes is not allowing any water to flow out of the hole it created.

"As the weather thaws like it is beginning to do today, then that ice melts and the water turns liquid again. It starts spraying out the holes it may have created. Just because it was super cold last week, you may not know you've got damage until this week," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said if you find yourself with a busted pipe, there are a few things you need to do immediately.

"Get the water shut off. Shut it off yourself, get a friend to come over and shut it off. The plumber might be busy someplace. If it takes him 30 minutes or an hour to get there and you can already have the water shut off, you may be saving yourself some damages," McLaughlin said.

No one wants to have a busted pipe and McLaughlin said there are a few steps you can take to help prevent it from happening, starting with keeping a warm house.

"The best thing you can do is keep the building heated, at least minimally. If you're going to be gone, don't turn the heat completely off. Keep the building at least above the freezing temperature," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said you should also keep your faucets dripping when temperatures drop below freezing. That allows them to keep water moving through the pipes, preventing them from freezing. But he says to make sure you run both faucets at a sink, not just the cold water one.

"A lot of people will drip the cold-water faucet because they know that helps to keep the meter from freezing. If you have hot water pipes they need to have a little bit of movement through them as well," McLaughlin said.

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