Albemarle County fire and rescue crews are staying busy with reports of broken pipes. They have been called to three homes with burst pipes in the past several days.
The extreme weather is causing water inside pipes to freeze, which is then causing them to burst. In some cases, that's causing some major damage. Mitigation crews spent Wednesday cleaning up a cold, sloshy mess at the Riverbend condos in Albemarle County.
"If there's standing water they'll need to extract water and bring equipment in and make sure there's no water hiding under subfloors to prevent further secondary damage from happening,” said Stephanie Dean, with Paul Davis Restoration.
Fire crews were called to the Riverbend condos Tuesday when pipes in the sprinkler system broke. Several condos in two buildings were impacted. One man's apartment was drenched with water, his floors left destroyed.
Albemarle County fire crews say there are simple ways to help prevent pipes from bursting.
"Try to leave your cabinet doors open to your kitchen or your bathroom cabinets that way you expose those pipes to the heat from the inside of the house,” said Melvin Bishop, assistant fire marshal at Albemarle County Fire Rescue.
Mitigation crews say the number one cause of interior pipes breaking is improper insulation. They recommend keeping faucets open during extremely cold weather.
“Let a little bit of water trickle through the faucets and what that does is that allows a constant flow of water through the pipes which keeps it from sitting still and freezing up,” said Billy Greene, with Paul Davis Restoration.
Crews say even if you turn on your faucet and no water comes out, leave it on. This way as the ice starts to melt the water will push through.
An important safety tip: don't try to defrost the pipes yourself using a heater or blowtorch; leave it to the professionals. Bishop says the extreme heat will also cause the pipe to burst.