Bursting pipes depend on many factors when temperatures plunge

Temperatures to drop into 20s Friday night

By Justin Horne - Weather Authority Meteorologist/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Temperatures are forecast to plummet into the 20s Friday night. During periods of freezing temperatures, you often hear about the four P’s, which stand for pets, plants, people and pipes. While all four are important, the issue of pipes freezing is becoming a bit more complex.

One reason for that has to do with the makeup of pipes, which varies widely. PEX, cross-linked polyethylene pipes, have been growing in popularity in recent years when it comes to moving potable water, especially in new construction. 

"They're made to expand and contract, so if they freeze, they'll get bigger, and when they thaw out, they'll shrink back down. That way, they don't burst,” said Joey Suarez, of A&A Plumbing. 

That means there is less worry for pipes like this when temperatures plummet. Other types of pipes like PVC, copper and even brass are more susceptible to bursting during cold temperatures. However, it is important to note that it takes an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures to cause widespread issues with pipes bursting.

Other factors play a role, too.

"It depends on how well insulated your attic is,” Suarez explained.

Many homes are now far better insulated than in years past. No matter the situation or makeup of your pipes, there are a few steps you will likely want to take Friday and Saturday night.

When it comes to that outdoor spigot, Suarez said, “You definitely want to cover them up. They have some little covers you can get from Home Depot or Lowe’s that'll go over them. It’s fairly inexpensive."

Disconnecting the water hose is a good idea, too. Plus, some sprinkler systems need a look.

"If you have a backflow preventer for your irrigation and it’s above ground, you definitely want to get some insulation around that,” Suarez said.

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