ST. LOUIS — As the temperatures go up, so do the number of water main breaks because of the freezing last week. Local plumbers are busier than ever now because of calls for frozen and busted pipes.

Crews are ready to help as many people as possible.

Plumbers across the Missouri and Illinois area are being overwhelmed with calls for service to fix busted, frozen pipes. According to Maurice Holmes of American Plumbing LLC, the phones have been ringing off the hook.

“We have been very busy, as far as having burst pipes, replacing them, and with the weather changing so drastically,” Holmes said. “Pipes freeze up, and we have to change them out.”

Much of the area dipped into freezing temperatures last week. Parts of North Hanley Road were shut down Wednesday morning after a water main break in Clayton. The 20-inch main broke between Maryland Avenue and Forest Park Parkway, severely damaging the road’s pavement.

With consistently below-freezing temperatures in the forecast, Missouri American Water is reminding residents and business owners to take steps to prevent frozen water pipes.

“Taking preventive steps at the onset of colder temperatures can help to protect our customers from both repair costs and higher water bills this winter,” said Rich Svindland, president of Missouri American Water. “They can also help prevent temporary interruptions in water service.”

Following these simple tips can protect plumbing, prevent costly repairs, and lower water bills.

Be prepared: 

  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. 
  •  Turn off and drain your irrigation system. 
  •  Eliminate sources of cold air near water. 
  •  Protect exposed pipes by wrapping them with insulation, fabric, or newspaper. 

When temperatures stay below freezing: 

  • Leave doors open on cabinets and vanities to expose pipes to warmer air. 
  • Keep water moving through pipes by allowing a small trickle of water to run. 
  • If it snows, allow the snow to cover your water meter. Snow acts as insulation. 

If your pipes freeze:

  • Shut off the water immediately. 
  •  Thaw pipes with warm air, not direct heat. Avoid leaving space heaters unattended and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames. 
  • Turn the water back on slowly once pipes have thawed, and check for cracks and leaks. 

For more information on cold weather tips, visit missouriamwater.com