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Cold weather puts pipes at risk

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There are steps you can take to prepare your home for a hard freeze.

"Say you turn on the cold, it runs, then the hot's still sitting there stagnant, so you want to turn them both that'll help that from freezing," said Stephen Harwell, a master plumber.

Harwell is with 1st Plumbing Services. He says service calls are already way up.

"We've definitely noticed a lot of calls for freezing pipes," said Stephen.

If you have no water coming out of your faucet, your pipes are probably frozen.

Stephen said, "You want to get as much heat as close to those pipes as possible."

Another step to protect your home, if you have vents that are near the foundation, you're going to want to cover them.

"If you don't disconnect the hose, the water in the hose can freeze and travel up into the hose bib and bust the hose bib, so you want to disconnect it," said Stephen. "{A} bit of water out of there."

What you don't want to do is use a torch to thaw out anything you suspect is frozen.

That's what caused three of the Edgecliff Condominiums in north Austin to go up in flames.

And according to the Austin Fire Department, it's not the only dangerous behavior they come across when there's cold weather.

"Frequently, what we'll have is ashes that have been cleared out, put in a combustible container, they're still hot and after an hour or two they'll ignite the container and ignite the structure," said Division Chief Mike Frick with the Austin Fire Department.

Stephen added, "Anything on an exterior wall...lavatory, tub and shower valve...anything you have back there, you want to get... enough water in there to keep it from freezing."

Easy steps around the house could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run, plus those items that can't be replaced.

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