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INDIANAPOLIS — With extremely bitter temperatures on the way, it’s important to take steps to protect your home against frozen pipes.

“Failing to protect your plumbing from cold temperatures can be disruptive and very costly. When ice expands inside pipes, it creates tremendous pressure that can crack and burst them, leaving homeowners with a costly plumbing bill and thousands of dollars in water damage,” said Indiana American Water President Matt Prine.

Following these winterization tips now can help you avoid headaches later:

  • Search for uninsulated pipes and consider wrapping pipes with foam insulation or electric heating tape — but follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid a fire hazard.
  • Make sure your garage door and crawl space doors/vents are closed.
  • Leave cabinet doors open in kitchen and bathroom areas to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Consider letting a faucet drip to keep water moving through the pipes.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls, especially where cable TV or phone lines enter the house.
  • Draine and shut off entirely the water to any unoccupied residence like a summer or vacation home.
  • Set the thermostat no lower than 55 degrees if you’re going out of town.
  • Make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is in case of emergency.
  • Consider wrapping your water heater in an insulation blanket. This can lower your heating bills.

If you have a fire hydrant outside your home, it’s important to keep that area clear when snow accumulates. This can save firefighters time if they need to access it in an emergency. Remove snow and ice within a 3-foot perimeter of the hydrant and shovel a pathway from the hydrant to the street so firefighters can get to it quickly.