Freezing water line prevention tips

During frigid temperature season, homeowners should be aware of precautions they can take to help protect interior pipes and water meters from freezing so that exterior service lines aren’t affected. 

Prolonged cold temperatures like we can experience during winter season can cause water in pipes and water meters to freeze and burst in unprotected and unheated areas of your home. Buried water service lines can also be affected as frost can penetrate deep into the ground, some areas as much as 3.5 to 5 feet, which can result in the freezing of buried service lines, thereby preventing residents from having access to water. A burst water pipe or frozen service line can cause considerable property damage resulting in costly repairs and interrupting water service. Property owners would then require the services of a professional to make the necessary repairs or thaw the buried water service line.

Here are some simple tips to protect your property:

• Seal cracks in doors, windows and foundations. Small openings concentrate cold air creating a cold pocket that can quickly freeze pipes.

• Open cabinets and closets that contain water lines to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.

• Allow cold water to drip through faucets. Running or dripping water can help prevent water lines from freezing; however, even running water can freeze in sub-zero temperatures.

• Consider installing water pipe insulation. Local building supply stores carry a number of products designed specifically for this purpose. If you decide to use a heat tape, be sure it has the UL seal of approval.

• Check pipe insulation periodically to make sure it is dry. Wet insulation can be worse than no insulation.

• If you’re going away for an extended period, keep the heat on inside the house. Even a low thermostat heat setting helps protect the pipes in the event the outside temperature drops.

• If you plan to turn the heat off, be sure to drain all the water from the pipes, toilets and water heater, and turn off the power source to the water heater.

• Make sure the shutoff valves on either side of the water meter are working properly. Place a tag on the main shutoff valve and make sure everyone in the house knows where it is and how to operate it in case of an emergency.

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