Water company advises residents to be prepared for cold winter weather
With polar-like conditions predicted to bring frigid temperatures to the commonwealth this winter, Pennsylvania American Water is advising homeowners to prepare now to prevent frozen and damaged household pipes.
“Following last year’s harsh winter, we want to remind customers that sub-freezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst and result in costly damage,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Kathy L. Pape. “By taking the proper preventive steps, customers can avoid worrying about frozen pipes and making expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home.”
Property owners are responsible for maintenance of the water service line from the curb to the house, as well as any in-home piping. Pennsylvania American Water encourages residents to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes:
Before frigid weather sets in:
Know what areas of the home, such as basements, crawl spaces, unheated rooms and outside walls, are most vulnerable to freezing.
Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
Know the location of the main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately.
Protect pipes and the water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric might also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter pit closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation, so don’t disturb it.
When temperatures are consistently at or below freezing:
If there are pipes that are vulnerable to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe.
Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
If pipes freeze:
Shut off the water immediately. Don’t attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. Use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks.
Have a friend, relative or neighbor regularly check property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen.
Also, a freeze alarm can be purchased for less than $100 and will call a user-selected phone number if the inside temperature drops below 45 degrees.
Pennsylvania American Water also advises that sub-freezing temperatures can hasten aging water mains to break and cause unsafe driving conditions. If anyone sees a leak, or their water service is disrupted, contact the company’s 24x7 customer service center at 1-800-565-7292.
More cold weather tips can be found at http://www.pennsylvaniaamwater.com, or by visiting the company’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/paamwater) or its Facebook page (facebook.com/pennsylvaniaamwater.com).