Police warn homeowners while temperatures drop

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - Temperatures are plummeting once again, and now police have a warning for homeowners.

The warning comes from the Pawleys Island Police Department after freezing weather earlier this year caused pipes to burst, mostly in vacant homes.

Homes all along the Grand Strand and in the Pee Dee are at risk, especially because of how long this cold snap is lasting.

"The houses that are vacant and they're not winterized properly, the pipes will freeze up, especially the outdoor pipes and outdoor showers, and spigots. They'll start to crack, and the tubing will break,"warned Chief Fanning with the Pawleys Island Police Department.

The issue wrecked havoc on the island earlier this year.

"We had 50 houses that we documented and between us and the rental companies, documented with frozen pipes," said the police chief.

Those fifty homes with frozen pipes flooded the streets and damaged properties. One problem Chief Fanning sees is many of the homes are vacation rentals, so no one is in town to turn on the heat or run water through the pipes.

"Many homes aren't completely winterized because people will come to stay during the holidays or throughout the winter," he said.

Chief Fanning suggests homeowners wrap pipes with insulation if they don't want to winterize them to prevent freezing.

However, experts warn that even if you take precautions to check your own home, you could be flooded with problems if your neighbors don't check their homes.

"What we see in the winter time, when a pipe breaks it affects more units, because there is no one there to catch the water," explained Steve Kahn with Full Steam Ahead.

Kahn suggests getting in touch with your rental company or property manager if you think you share a water meter with an empty unit.

"Have their number on hand, because the manager should know who lives there and be able to get inside," said Kahn.

If you are unable to get inside, with the neighbors permission, FSA suggests checking outside the home.

"One thing you can do, if they have a hose bib outside, and it's connected to their water, you can make it drip and that will force some of the water through the pipe and hopefully keep it from freezing," suggested Kahn.

Even if the water from your neighbors unit doesn't soak into your home, the standing water inside could still cause problems for your family, including mold or structural damage.

"The longer furniture sits in water, the longer water sits in the bottom of cabinets, it will cause more damage, and start swelling. The moisture in the air will cause it to do things it shouldn't, and you'll see cracks above door jams, crown molds start to separate," warned Kahn.

FSA points out homes recently built are more likely to see the damage done because the home hasn't been through a freeze yet. Tonight's dropping temperatures could cause pipes to crack and show construction problems.

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