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      Avoid plumbing problems during plunging temperatures

      Did you know that snow acts as an insulator? Just like that fuzzy stuff in your home's walls, the fluffy stuff on the ground behaves like a barrier between the cold air temperatures and the relatively warmer soil temperature.

      "The problem is when you don't have that insulating factor of the snow, when it does get really cold, all of that cold goes right into the ground," said Matt Zika, Meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

      And that's exactly what's happening this year. Our snow depth is far below normal. And there's a cold snap in the forecast, this week. So, if you have pipes below the ground, there won't be much between them and the coming cold.

      What can you do to protect them? Well, if you used insulating foam or heating tape to wrap the pipes during the beginning of the winter season, then you're already in good shape. You can also run a small amount of water when the conditions get cold enough and the local authorities give the OK. The constant flow of water helps to prevent freezing.

      "They should actually have just a thin stream of water running in one of their faucets," said Daniel Mickelson, Master Plumber.

      For the pipes that do unfortunately freeze up, there's one important step to take to prevent further damage.

      "The first thing you should do is try to shut off your water supply at your water meter. You should always have some sort of valve around your meter. Shut that off."

      If you don't, you could risk a leakage problem when the frozen burst of ice in the pipe thaws, potentially flooding your home.

      And if you don't like the cold, then the breezy conditions won't make the next few days any better for you.

      "Wind chill values will probably be 20 or 30 below zero," Zika said. "And so the frostbite times will be relatively small."

      Always remember to keep your skin protected from the elements in the cold; wear heavy gloves and hats.