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How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing

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    LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Janice in New Jersey who has a question about sort of prepping what to do to make sure your pipes don’t freeze. Especially this is a good time.

    So Janice, how can we help?

    JANICE: Alright, I thank you so much. Love your show, by the way.

    TOM and LESLIE: Thank you.

    JANICE: And I just recently purchased a house that has two water spigots: one in the front and one in the back. Unlike my old house where I would turn the water off in the basement and open the spigot outside …

    TOM: Right.

    JANICE: … this, I was told, has some kind of spigots that are anti-freeze and they just don’t need that; there’s no way to turn it off. I’m wondering is there really such a thing, can I trust them, and is there a way to check?

    TOM: Well (chuckles), that’s a good question, Janice. The answer is that there is such a thing as a frost-proof hose bib, which is what you have. But I would always recommend turning those off in the wintertime. What happens is water is not trapped inside the pipe in that type of a situation, so it really is not supposed to freeze and break. But I actually have seen frost-proof hose bibs freeze and break. In fact, I think I had one in my house years ago. So I always, always, always recommend that you turn off your hose spigots. If you don’t have a valve to do that, it is a good idea to have one put in. But check carefully. I’ll be real surprised if you don’t have an internal shutoff. Sometimes the hose bib shutoff is not right opposite where the valve is on the outside of your house. Sometimes it’s farther down the line. So make sure you trace …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and sometimes it’s in a little storage area. Because we have the same situation. We have two spigots and they have two separate shutoff valves and one was so obvious to be it and the other one was sort of hidden further down the pipeline in a separate storage closet.

    JANICE: Oh, OK. Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, follow the pipe down and see if you can find it, Janice, because I think that it’s a good idea to turn those off. Now, you mentioned the right procedure for this so I mean I know you’ve been through this before. But for the rest of the folks, let me just point out that, yes, not only do you want to turn the valve off inside the house but you want to open the valve outside the house. And the reason you’re doing that …

    LESLIE: Get all that water out.

    TOM: Yeah, get all the water out of that piece of pipe because you could have a pipe that freezes and breaks and you don’t find out about it until you turn the valve back on again in the spring and out comes the shower.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Or don’t be like my sister Stephanie and end up not draining that and ending up with a huge amount of water in the basement. So really, it’s a simple step that can save you a lot of trouble.

    TOM: OK, Janice?

    JANICE: OK. And if I do have to have someone come in and put the shutoff valve on it because there aren’t any, would you suggest that each one have something really close so it’s obvious?

    TOM: I would just put it wherever it’s convenient to you.

    LESLIE: And then put a tag on it so you always know which one it is.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep. Mark your valves.

    JANICE: Oh, great idea.

    TOM: Janice, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

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