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Q - My wife constantly worries about our water pipes freezing during cold weather.

When do normal people worry about frozen pipes and what can help prevent them.

A - It's funny how many letters I get that start with either 'My wife…' or 'My husband…'

Here is a rule of thumb for frozen pipes:

If the temperature crawls below freezing and the wind is howling for more than 6-8 hours you need to be aware that frozen pipes could occur.

One of the easiest and first things you should do is to drain and unhook your hose outside your house and store it for the winter.

As far as your house pipes go, pipes that are exposed are obviously more subject to freezing than interior pipes. If you have pipes running through your crawlspace it would be wise to wrap them in insulation.

Insulation for pipes is available at almost all hardware stores, is inexpensive, and is very, very easy to install yourself. The same goes for electric heat tape which you can apply to a pipe, set a little thermostat and plug in.

(Quick word about heat tape - while you can install it yourself, it is handy to have an electrical outlet near where you want the heat tape. Call your favorite electrician to come over and install an outlet under the house where you want it. They will make sure it is up to code. This will also make the heat tape job much easier.)

The next most vulnerable pipes are the ones in your garage (same cure) followed by pipes located in exterior walls of your home.

To help keep those pipes in your exterior walls from freezing open the cabinet doors under your sinks to allow heat from house easier access.

In very cold situations you should drip your pipes overnight. It takes running water much longer to freeze than still water. Don't forget to drip the hot water AND the cold-water pipes at the same time.

My rule of thumb for this is if I even remotely think my pipes may freeze, that's enough for me to run my faucets at night.

One other tip to consider - if your water heater is in your crawlspace or garage, really consider getting a blanket to wrap it in. Wrapping your water heater will help it work more efficiently.

One last tip - in a worst-case scenario it is also good to know where to shut off the water to your house at your house and at the street. Seriously. Find it and learn how to use it.