MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Within the week, we could see days where the high temp is below zero. The extreme cold snap is not only uncomfortable for us, but it can also do a number on our homes. Cold temps and high winds are the perfect recipe for frozen pipes.

After a slow season last winter, plumbing companies around the metro are gearing up for what could be a rush in business. Experts, like Wayne Johnson of Minneapolis Saint Paul Plumbing, Heating And Air, say a little prevention now could save you both a big mess and a hefty bill.

“Proactive is always better with everything,” Johnson said.

When cold wind hits your home, it makes its way through the walls, hitting the pipes.

“That water is sitting still, and so it’s just waiting for it to be frozen,” he said.

So what can you do to prevent this? First, look at your insulation.

“If you’re…remodeling and stuff, that’s the time to really start looking at your insulation, not only just to save energy, but also to prevent some of these pipes from freezing,” he said.

Second, Johnson says if you have an attached garage, keep the doors closed to keep cold air out.

And third is an easy one: if you go out of town, have a family member or neighbor check in on your home every couple of days.

Johnson says unoccupied homes lose heat easily. And if your plumbing does freeze, put a space heater near the exposed pipe. If that doesn’t work, call a plumber.

Experts use a thaw machine, which looks similar to a battery charger. Using an electrical charge, the machine thaws the pipe.

Another tip is to open up the cabinets beneath the sinks, especially if you have a sink next to an outside wall. Also, don’t turn your heat down during cold, windy days. Keep it at the same temp. Any cooling down period – or time when the heat isn’t on in your home – allows cold air to get into walls.

And when it gets really cold, keep your faucets running – even at a drip. Doing so keeps the water flowing, which – like a river – won’t freeze as fast.

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