Plumbers offer tips for frozen and/or broken pipes

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COVINGTON-  Turning on a dry faucet at work was the last thing Brenda Willis thought she'd have on her agenda coming back from the holiday.

"I mean this is an old building, downtown Covington," said the St. Tammany Farmer employee. "We used to have one bathroom back here, all we ever did was leave the bathroom doors open so that the heat can go in them, but when I turned that on this morning and there was no water, it was like 'Oh my God, did we pay the water bill?'"

Plumber Wayne Schoonover is on his eighth call of the day just like it.

"You can see that the copper 90 has split on the back side and that's due to the ice had nowhere to go so it expanded and blew the copper fitting out," he said while pointing at water spewing from a pipe under a home in Slidell.

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Even though the area has been under a hard freeze warning for several days, some of the calls for frozen or busted pipes are surprising him.

"About four calls out of eight I've done so far today, pipes have been wrapped and still froze due to no one running water, which is kind of odd. Never seen that before," he said.

So if you start your morning with no water, step one is to check your pipes outside.

"If the pipe looks solid and intact, then it's probably just frozen," said Wes Williams with E&E Plumbing. "If the pipe looks like it's split, then you have a problem and probably need to call a plumber."

A pipe covered in ice or spraying water is also a sign of a snap. In that case, it's suggested to turn your water service off and call for a repair.

But if the pipes are just frozen, "most people can just take a hair dryer and just heat up the pipe right there and leave faucets on inside to let the water start flowing through," said Schoonover.

And to avoid a freeze altogether? Apply wraps. Schoonover then says, "if you have a hose faucet furthest away from your water service, let it trickle outside.  Also, run something inside. Just about a pencil length stream is all you need."

If you have your outside faucets covered, you do not need to run any water from those. It's also suggested to leave cabinets open where piping runs to the exterior of the home to allow warmth from the heater running for the people inside to reach the pipes too.