Tips to keep your pipes from bursting this winter

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- As the winter season is beginning with temperatures well below freezing, it is important to winterize your home and take measures to make sure your pipes do not break or burst.

In these frigid temperatures, water expands as it freezes. With the expanding water droplets, it puts high amounts of pressure on whatever surface it is on. Both metal and plastic pipes can freeze with these chilly temperatures in many places across homes and buildings.

Pipes along water faucets in kitchens, hose extensions, throughout basements, crawl spaces, cupboards and cabinets in kitchens will freeze the most often. Pipes can freeze on the outside of buildings as well, specifically pipes along house or building sidings where not much heat is exposed.

Many times during winter, people go on vacations and leave their homes unattended. That can be dangerous when temperatures drop drastically. In this scenario, furnaces can fail and cause pipes to freeze because there is no running heat. Michael Lensinger of Pearson Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning and Pest Control says this is the biggest problem he faces each winter with his company.

He says, "Without the heat, the house will get cold and have pipes break and freeze. If the water is off, you may still have the pipes break but at least when they thaw, the water won't run and won't run cause major damage."

Rockford Fire Department also responds to calls about frozen pipes each year. When people see frozen pipes, often they try to thaw them out themselves. While doing that safely with a small space heater or hair drier is preferred, often times torches and big space heaters are used.

Matthew Knott, District Chief at the Rockford Fire Department says that using bigger instruments like torches will cause those pipes to melt and leak even more.

It is also recommended that you leave faucets turned on slightly to have constant water flow in chilly conditions. However if you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets on and call a professional plumber. If your pipes burst in your garage, basement, crawl space, or in other poorly-insulated areas, turn the water valve off if you can and call 911.