As temperatures drop this winter, concern grows that water can turn to ice in your plumbing system. Water expands when it freezes, an effect that can crack or break exposed pipes. And a broken pipe can cause serious damage after it thaws and water starts flowing again.
There are several precautions you can take to protect your home and/or business.
Prepare for freezing temperatures:
Before the cold weather starts, take a few precautions to reduce the risk of frozen pipes.
Insulate your exposed pipes. Wrap them with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves. You can also use rags or newspaper. Be sure to wrap the pipes with at least an inch of those materials, then cover them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to keep them dry.
When the temperature drops:
A little water goes a long way. As outdoor temperatures approach 32 degrees, turn on the indoor faucet farthest away from your water meter. Run only one faucet with no more than a trickle of water, about as thin as a standard strand of spaghetti, to minimize the chance of water freezing in your pipes.
Do not run more than one faucet, and do not run any faucet at full blast. It is unnecessary and can be expensive for customers. It can also contribute to lower water pressures across the water system, risking the potential for a precautionary boil water advisory.
Once temperatures climb above the freezing point, be sure to turn off your taps. Running them at temperatures above 32 degrees does not protect your pipes in any way.
Extra steps you can take:
- · Open the doors to cabinets where your pipes are located to allow heat from the rest of the home/building to warm them.
- · Open interior doors to allow heat to pass from room to room.
- · Disconnect garden hoses.
If freeze causes a break or leak:
Call a licensed plumber immediately. Turn off and drain the water in your house. To do this, locate the main water line from your water meter. There should be a valve where that line enters your house. Turn it off. Then run all your indoor faucets to drain water from your pipes. It is important you contact your plumber as soon as possible. Similar to other utility providers, the Department of Utilities cannot repair water leaks or breaks on the customer’s side of the meter.