Cold Weather Tips: Protect Pipes From Freezing

American Water, a water services provider, reminds homeowners to be prepared for freezing winter temperatures and to know what steps can be taken to prevent costly plumbing repairs.

"Weatherproofing your home against the cold will pay dividends on energy bills in the winter and will also help protect your indoor plumbing against the threat of breaks. Seasonal homes are especially at risk during this time of the year. Homeowners should take every precaution to winterize their property and perform preventative maintenance to indoor plumbing," said Stephen Schmitt, vice president of operational services for American Water.

The company encourages people to take the following precautions to reduce the risk of frozen pipes that can burst.

  • Know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately. The main water valve is usually located along a basement wall next to the water meter, or where the water supply enters the building.
  • Know the areas in your home where water pipes are most vulnerable to freezing: crawl spaces, outside walls, outside faucets, unheated rooms, basements, garages or attics.
  • Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines. Make your basement airtight by repairing broken windows, insulating walls and closing off crawl-space vents and doors.
  • Protect your pipes. Wrap exposed water pipes with insulation or Underwriters Laboratories Inc.-listed heat tape. Newspaper or fabric also may work as a temporary measure.
  • Drain water lines to outside faucets. Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Keep your thermostat at 55 degrees or higher. If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, ask a neighbor or family member to check the house regularly.

More cold weather tips can be found on the American Water Web site at

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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